HC Deb 21 May 1968 vol 765 cc477-92

12.47 a.m.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Edmund Dell)

I beg to move, That the Import Duties (General) (No. 4) Order 1968 (S.I., 1968, No. 679), dated 30th April, 1968, a copy of which was laid before this House on 14th May, be approved. The main purpose of this Order is to implement on 1st July the first instalment of import duty reductions agreed in the Kennedy Round of Trade Negotiations, which were concluded in Geneva in June, 1967. The main elements of the agreement were briefly described by the then President of the Board of Trade, my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Douglas Jay) in this House on 31st May, 1967. That statement was welcomed on both sides of the House, and welcomed in greater detail in the White Paper presented last July. As hon. Members will have read that White Paper, my introductory speech is shorter than would otherwise have been possible; and brevity will no doubt be welcomed at this hour.

Briefly, the Kennedy Round negotiations were the most ambitious attempt ever made to lower barriers to world trade. Some fifty countries, accounting for about eighty per cent. of world trade, took part. Trade in the industrial products subject to tariff concessions amounted in 1964 to about 40,000 million dollars, and the United Kingdom, the E.E.C. countries, the United States, and Japan agreed to duty reductions of, in many cases, up to 50 per cent. and averaging overall, nearly 40 per cent. Based on our imports of dutiable industrial goods from these three sources in 1964, our reductions amount to 37 per cent. in the case of E.E.C, 40 per cent. in the case of the United States, and 34 per cent. in the case of Japan; and this is closely in line with what we received from them.

In relation to our imports from all countries outside the Commonwealth preference area and E.F.T.A., the average reduction in our duties will be about 38 per cent. For the first time in the history of the G.A.T.T. tariff negotiations, there was also a significant agricultural element in the settlement. This embraced arrangements for world trade in cereals, as well as some reductions in agricultural tariffs. In addition, a start was made in lowering non-tariff barriers to trade. The results in these non-tariff fields were an essential part of the general settlement, but this Order is concerned only with the tariff aspects.

The tariff concessions agreed by the participating countries are set out in the national schedules attached to the Geneva (1967) Protocol to the G.A.T.T., and that Protocol is open for acceptance until 30th June, 1968. The United Kingdom, along with all other participants, signed the final Act authenticating the results of the negotiations on 30th June, 1967, and we have notified the G.A.T.T. Secretariat that it is our intention to sign the protocol as soon as our first instalment of tariff cuts has received Parliamentary approval.

The protocol gives participant countries the option of making the agreed tariff reductions in five annual, equal instalments, starting on 1st January, 1968, or of making two-fifths of the total reductions on 1st July, 1968, and a one-fifth reduction on 1st January, 1970, 1971, and 1972. The United States and 11 other countries have adopted the first method, and have already made the first instalment of the reductions they agreed. The United Kingdom, the E.E.C. countries and Japan, and all other major participants, are adopting the second method.

The Order simply makes the first instalment of the United Kingdom's agreed tariff reductions; that is, two-fifths of the total concessions as shown in Schedule XIX—the U.K. Schedule to the Geneva Protocol. Because these duty reductions affect a wide range of goods, the Order takes the form of a consolidating Order, with a Schedule showing the protective duties applicable, as from 1st July, to all goods in the U.K. tariff. In a few cases the duty rate in the Order is the final rate, which we are not obliged to reach until 1st January, 1972.

This is usually because the duty reduction is so small that it cannot appropriately be staged; for example, preserved sweetened pineapple, on which the duty is being reduced from 5s. 7d. to 5s. 6d. per cwt. In a number of cases the duty reduction made by the Order is not the exact arithmetic equivalent of 40 per cent. of the total reduction agreed. This is because we took the opportunity in the Kennedy Round negotiations to introduce a modest, but much-needed measure of simplification and rationalisation into our tariff.

The United Kingdom introduced its general protective tariff in 1932, though a few duties were introduced before then. Over the years, a large number of changes have been made in duty rates for domestic and international reasons, and the structure of the tariff has become excessively complicated and fragmented. The Kennedy Round negotiations offered a unique opportunity to improve this situation and what was agreed there will eventually reduce the number of subheadings from about 3,400 to 2,750 and will also simplify some of the more complicated duty rates. The new tariff will be easier both for traders to understand and for our Customs officers to administer, with consequent benefit to the trading community.

Many of these simplification changes are included in the Order, but some of the sub-heading amalgamations will be made in subsequent instalments of the Kennedy Round changes to avoid including unduly large reductions of duty on particular sub-headings in this first instalment. The opportunity was also taken in the Kennedy Round negotiations to convert some duties from a specific to an ad valorem basis or, less frequently, from an ad valorem to a specific basis. This has been done to avoid wide variations in the incidence of the existing duty on different goods covered by the same tariff heading, and to provide a more appropriate basis for charging duties on the products concerned.

In the great majority of cases, of course, these changes will have the result of a reduction in the rates of duty by 1972, but for a few there may, nevertheless, be an increase in the actual amount of duty charged as from 1st July on particular goods imported from some sources.

Similarly, there may be some increases in duty arising from the change made in the method of calculating the duties applicable to made-up textile articles which contain silk and/or man-made fibres. At present, the duties charged on these products depend on the value of the man-made fibre content in relation to the value of all the components. To remove the considerable administrative difficulties which the system imposes on both Customs officers and traders, and to bring the basis of calculation into line with that used for yarns and fabrics, a change is being made so that from 1st July, 1968, the duty will depend on the relative weight of the silk or man-made fibre content of the goods.

This particular change in the textile sphere can result in an increase in duty on certain goods because the silk or man-made fibre content may be higher when calculated on a weight basis than it is on a value basis. Although overseas manufacturers may be able to make adjustments to take account of this change, some traders have drawn our attention to the substantial increased burden of duty which will fall on them in respect of firm contracts already placed with their suppliers.

The changes have, in general, been made after consultation with industry and were reflected in the United Kingdom's offer accepted by the parties in Geneva Nevertheless, we appreciate that in a few cases the initial impact of the change can be serious, and for this reason we propose to allow importers the option of classifying imports on the old value basis or the new weight basis for a limited period after 1st July.

A further Order will be laid shortly to give effect to this. In the case of carpets containing man-made fibres, representations have been made that the change is likely to result in a significant permanent increase in duty. For these goods we shall consider, in consultation with the trades and industries concerned, whether it is feasible to make some further lasting adjustment to the tariff.

The wide scope of the Kennedy Round negotiations was bound to affect the tariff preferences enjoyed by countries within the Commonwealth Preference area. However, by consultations during the negotiations, we were able to take into account the views of other Commonwealth Governments on proposed concessions that would affect preferences in the British market of particular importance to them and also to make our views known about the importance to us of preferences which would be affected by concessions offered by other Commonwealth Governments. In the event, the effect on the overall average preferential margins—both ways—was relatively small.

During the Kennedy Round negotiations, the industrialised countries agreed to consider implementing in full and at once tariff cuts of particular interest to the less developed countries. In November, 1967, the United Kingdom notified the G.A.T.T. Secretariat of the items on which we would be prepared to do this provided other developed countries made offers broadly comparable in scope. Similar concessions are being made by the E.E.C., U.S.A. and Japan and we have accordingly informed the G.A.T.T. Secretariat that we shall implement our accelerated reductions on 15th July. For technical reasons it has not been possible to include them in the present Order and a further Order will be laid shortly.

The Order also deals with a matter not connected with the Geneva negotiations. This is the status of the duties on hops, hop oil and hop extracts. Since 1925 these products have been subject to revenue duties, but because there is no equivalent excise duty they are wholly protective in effect. Indeed, when they were introduced the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Winston Churchill, described them as "nakedly protective". It is, therefore, appropriate that they should be recognised as such and imposed under the Import Duties Act rather than by the Finance Act.

Clause 2(3) of the Finance Bill removes the revenue duties on hops and hop products from 1st July and the present Order imposes import—that is, protective—duties on that date. The duties will remain exactly the same except that they will not apply to imports from the Irish Republic. This is because Article IV of the Free Trade Area Agreement with the Irish Republic requires us to remove by 30th June, 1968 the protective element in our existing revenue duties—in this case, the whole of the duty.

I welcome the opportunity to put before the House the practical results of the Kennedy Round. This Order marks an important step in the process of lowering tariff barriers on world trade. During the Kennedy Round negotiations we had very much in mind both the opportunities which this process will open to our exporters and the interests of British industry in their domestic market and the views which they put to us. Inevitably, the results could not be wholly satisfactory to all firms and industries, but I must emphasise that the concessions given on particular products were part of a "package" deal and that we cannot now go back on what was agreed at Geneva. It is open to industry at any time to apply to the Board of Trade for a duty increase and such applications can be considered under the normal procedure for examining requests for changes in the protective tariff.

However, if a duty were to be increased above the level which has been "bound" in the G.A.T.T. as a result of the Kennedy Round, contracting parties to the G.A.T.T. with a substantial trade interest in the products would have the right to request consultations with a view to negotiating compensation, and such compensation would probably have to take the form of a tariff concession on some other product of interest to the countries concerned. The increase of such a bound duty rate can therefore be contemplated only if there is a very strong case indeed. Other countries which receive complaints from their industries about duty reductions conceded to our benefit in the Kennedy Round are, of course, subject to the same G.A.T.T. rules.

The importance of the Kennedy Round must be judged by its overall results. The changes made in the United Kingdom tariff by this Order are only one part of an extensive multilateral agreement which we are confident will give an impetus to the expansion of world trade which is of such importance to this country. Accordingly the Order is commended to the House.

1.0 a.m.

Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

It is pleasant after the rather vigorous debates we had earlier to find an important subject on which both sides of the House can agree. I assure the Minister that most of the time I shall be agreeing with the sentiments he expressed, but first I must strike one note of criticism. The Order states that … no import duty shall be charged in the case of goods of the Republic of Ireland consigned to the United Kingdom from that country. The feelings of hon. Members on this side of the House about the free trade agreement with the Republic of Ireland are less than enthusiastic, because it appears to be turning out, as some of us forecast, to be a good deal more advantageous to the Republic of Ireland than ourselves. Whereas in 1966 the balance of trade between the two countries was more or less equal, in 1967 the United Kingdom had an adverse balance of about £28 million.

We observe, also, that the way in which the agreement has worked has done a good deal of harm to our farmers, especially livestock fanners. We are not altogether surprised to find the results unsatisfactory, because the agreement was reached as a result of one of the interventions of the Prime Minister in the days when he was more addicted to instant Government—

Mr. Speaker

Order. With respect, we cannot discuss the free trade agreement with Eire except as it is affected by the Order.

Mr. Blaker

I note what you say, Mr. Speaker, and hope to comply with your Ruling.

I was observing that the Order says that no import duties will be charged on goods coming from the Republic of Ireland, so that it contains that general clause in it which is presumably intended to give effect to the free trade agreement. Apart from the general effect, it has a particular effect in relation to hops, and its result is to exempt Irish hops from import duty.

I hope that the Minister will tell us something about the significance of this exemption, because I find information on this subject rather sparse. I understand that Ireland has recently begun to cultivate hops, which it has not done in the past. I understand that the growth of hops there is not very great, but I suppose it could expand, especially if it were found advantageous as a result of this agreement.

I also understand that Ireland imports a great deal of hops from the United States, that there is a world surplus of hops at present, and that cheap hops are on offer from the United States generally. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us an assurance that he is satisfied that the arrangements which will be made for certification will be such that there will be no danger of hops from the United States coming to this country under the guise of Irish hops.

As the Minister said, that Order is important. It consolidates, it effects some simplifications of the tariff, and it eliminates certain tariff headings. I welcome those moves, which are desirable. It would be surprising if none of them gave any inconvenience to anybody, but I am not aware of any substantial criticisms so far, apart from those which the Minister mentioned, of these changes.

But the most important change made by the Order is in giving effect to the first slice of the reductions which we have agreed to make in the Kennedy Round. The Minister outlined the great scope and magnitude of these reductions. The Order puts into effect 40 per cent. of the reductions which we shall eventually be obliged to make. If my figures are correct, this Order alone effects, in general and on the average, a reduction of 14 per cent. in our industrial tariffs, and I understand that the cuts cover about eight-ninths of those industrial imports which are now paying the full rate of tariff.

The Financial Times said that when the Kennedy Round cuts are complete we shall have seen the end of the era of high tariff protection for the greater part of British industry. I do not know whether I would go as far as that, because our tariffs will still be higher than those of the United States and the Common Market. But it is certainly true, I think, that the Kennedy Round represents the biggest round of tariff cuts in which Britain has ever taken part.

As we have made clear, we support the Kennedy Round and the Government's action. We have previously congratulated the Government on the success of the Kennedy Round, and I repeat those congratulations. I pay tribute, rather belatedly, but we have not previously debated this subject, important though it may be, to the skill and perseverance of the British team which engaged in these negotiations, which commenced in 1963 under the previous Conservative Government. We support the Government because we believe that Britain must benefit from freer trade, and especially freer trade in manufactures since we export more manufactures than we import.

It is also true that the Kennedy Round reductions assume greater importance in the aftermath of devaluation. Whether devaluation was right or wrong, or whether it was forced on us, it is now a fact, and it seems clear that we should be in a stronger position to take advantage of the growth of world trade which should result from the Kennedy Round.

There are obviously certain things about the agreement achieved last summer which one regrets. We regret that it was not possible to cut the tariff on lorries and tractors, which would have been of great value to this country. It was regrettable that it was not possible in the negotiations to persuade other developed countries to increase their quotas of textile imports. Perhaps the Minister would say something about any recent developments on that front. Paragraph 24 of the White Paper said that in separate discussions the United States and the Common Market have agreed to substantial increases in their import quotas on cotton textiles. This was in July last year, and the House would be interested to know of anything which has occurred since then.

We regret that it was not possible to persuade the Americans to abandon the wine gallon method of assessment of duties on imported alcoholic beverages. We regret that more was not achieved in the Kennedy Round negotiations or at the meetings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to help the trade of the developing countries, but we note the statement of the Minister about our acceleration in that connection. However, one must accept that in negotiations of this kind it is never possible to get all one wants. One must be content with the best bargain one can obtain. We on this side of the House warmly welcome the bargain made in June last year.

I wish to put three questions to the Minister. He mentioned that different groups of countries have adopted different approaches to timing their cuts in accordance with the options open to them. Can he say what steps are being taken by other countries to implement their obligations? Are the principal countries concerned proceeding at the speed at which we might hope they would be going forward? Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the progress being made towards implementing the first cuts agreed in Geneva?

The second question concerns chemicals. The House will remember that this was one of the most difficult aspects of the negotiations in the Kennedy Round and that the package which resulted was a complicated one. It involved two parts. The first was an agreement on the reduction in certain chemical duties. There is no complication about that. But the second part was an agreement about the passage by the United States Government of legislation to abolish the American selling price system of valuation relating to chemicals and to make certain other reductions in tariffs, in return for which the other parties to the agreement made other concessions.

This agreement was embodied in a memorandum, published in the White Paper, which, I understand, cannot enter into force until after the United States legislation is passed. But it also cannot enter into force later than 1st January 1969, unless all the parties agree to a postponement of the date of entry into force. It seems, therefore, that there is a danger that, if the American legislation is not passed this year, this agreement might lapse. Perhaps the Minister could tell the House how matters stand on that subject?

I come now to my third question. It would be useful to the House if the Minister could give some indication of how long this tariff is likely to last. This is what I mean. According to the protocol, the next cut which the United Kingdom is obliged to make must take place on 1st January, 1970. However, as the House will recall, the Government made an offer on 14th March this year to accelerate our cuts, so that the whole of them would be made at the beginning of next year.

That offer was accompanied by certain provisos: that the other E.F.T.A. countries, the common market countries and Japan, did the same; that the United States Government would not introduce restrictive trade measures; and that the United States Government would proceed as quickly as hitherto contemplated with their own Kennedy Round cuts and with the abolition of the American selling price system for chemicals. This was an important offer which we welcomed at the time as a constructive initiative and which we recognised was intended to ward off the real danger of reversal of the trend towards free trade and the beginning of a cycle of competitive trade restrictions.

The Government are not blameless in the past for having set precedents for restrictive attitudes towards international trade and payments. But this time I think that they were right in thinking in terms of expansion rather than restriction, in thinking of opening the windows towards freer trade, and not battening down the shutters. That sort of attitude was right, because it generated confidence rather than weakening it.

There are certain disadvantages. The immediate benefits, if this proposal were adopted, would go to the United States, not to ourselves, and our own producers would be faced with an acceleration of the Kennedy Round cuts which would all take place next year rather than culminating in 1972. But I think that the Government took the right view: that when compared with the consequences which could follow for ourselves and for the world if the Americans adopted a restrictive attitude, which would be little short of disastrous, the disadvantages of the course proposed by the Government should be accepted.

Since that offer, I understand that the Common Market countries have made an offer also. It was not quite as forthcoming as the British and E.F.T.A. offer but it was substantial. There the matter has remained stuck. The efforts of the Secretary-General for G.A.T.T. to find a solution have not, as far as I am aware, succeeded. These are delicate and important matters affecting the whole future of the Kennedy Round. If things went wrong, if the wrong course was taken by the principal Western trading coun- tries, all the progress which we hoped to see from that agreement reached last year could be undone. I hope that the Minister can throw some light on the present situation and bring the House up to date.

1.16 a.m.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

This Order, bringing into effect the Kennedy Round negotiations, is one of the big steps forward in international trading for a long time. We have had a year of crisis in international trading matters—the devaluation of sterling which rocked the international market, the gold crisis and the very sad failure of the U.N.C.T.A.D. negotiations in New Delhi. Here, at least, is a very bright step forward, one which everyone concerned for the future of world trading will welcome.

I have a small personal interest, because I watched some of these negotiations, very much from the sidelines, and I echo the tributes paid by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) to the British delegation. These were very arduous negotiations over a long period, with many difficulties. There was a time when many wondered whether the Kennedy Round could succeed. There were moments of crisis and frustration, but finally a general triumph.

I have some points, technical, specific and general to raise. I understand that the reductions of tariff to take place will be in five equal instalments. There is a choice between the various signatories of the method by which they can do this. If I understand the Minister correctly, we have adopted the second method while the Americans have adopted the first. What reasons led to this?

My second technical point concerns a specific statement in the Order that there shall be no charge on goods brought to this country from the Irish Republic. My interest in this is not to do with hops, but rather to do with cattle. In my constituency there is a well-known cattle market and a number of fanners have been concerned about the large scale importation of Irish calves. The Minister of State may say that the Order will not affect that one way or the other, but he will realise that this is a matter of anxiety.

Two questions arise from the massive Schedules to the Order. I realise that an international agreement has been reached, but why is it still necessary for us to stand on tariffs which are still so high? If the Minister will consult Chapter 31, governing fertilisers, he will see that many of the tariffs which we still apply to imported chemical fertilisers are 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. I accept that there is an international agreement, but there is nothing which says that our tariffs cannot be lower. While I do not want to argue against the case some of our fertiliser manufacturers could make for these levels of protection, representing an agricultural constituency, I can see no reason why we should stand on such levels. Perhaps there is a good reason, which the Minister will give us.

My other question concerns Chapter 36, dealing with the importation of explosives. I hope that we import very little explosives—I am sure that we make our own. Why do we still stand at the level of a 16 per cent. tariff on percussion detonating caps, 16 per cent. on mining, blasting and safety fuses? Surely this is the kind of equipment which we want to import without tariffs?

My first general question concerns the likely future of the Kennedy Round agreements. My hon. Friend said that having achieved this step forward, we were entering a stage in which our hopes for further reductions must depend in large measure on the changing sentiment in the United States. For better or worse, we may face a rise in the protectionist spirit of Congress. This arises for many reasons, partly because of the run on gold, partly because the Americans feel that they are carrying many of the world's burdens, and not always being helped by their allies.

Whatever the reasons, there is a real possibility of protectionism in the American Congress. If this is so, and if simultaneously, we see economic policies not succeeding in Britain or Europe, then this bright prospect opened by the success of the Kennedy Round could be jeopardised. Does the Minister think that this is a real danger, and how does he see the British Government approaching the problem of keeping the momentum going;, and moving towards freer trade?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

Order. I do not think that can be debated on this Order.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I have put a number of questions, and will not press that point. I know that the Minister will realise that the point is very germane.

1.25 a.m.

Mr. Dell

It is interesting to note that there have been so many questions from sparsely populated a House. I welcome the general attitude of the House towards the Order, which represents the results of the Kennedy Round. This is not the time to discuss the merits or otherwise of the Anglo-Irish free trade area. Hon. Members opposite have doubts about some effects of that free trade area, but some of their doubts are in conflict with their views on other matters.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) wants tariffs reduced wherever his constituents are consumers, and raised wherever his constituents are producers. This is an inconsistent attitude, and ignores the fact that in all tariff negotiations we have to come to an agreement with our industrial partners in the world and get something which is mutually acceptable. This is the object of the Kennedy Round.

Mr. Blaker

Is the Minister not aware that in the agreement the Irish received the benefit of free entry for a great many of their goods at once, whereas the benefit to us was spread over a number of years?

Mr. Dell

I am perfectly aware that this was a provision in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is difficult to argue, not only in relation to the Anglo-Irish free trade area, but generally, that tariffs should be reduced on those things particular constituents consume and raised on those things particular constituents produce.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

With great respect, there is no reason to import into the debate acrimony which does not belong here. I was not asking for a general lowering of tariffs in a particular direction. I welcome the reduction of tariffs. I only ask the hon. Gentleman to recognise that there is a problem which has to be met. I do not in any way dissent from the desire to reduce tariffs on everything.

Mr. Dell

We all welcome the result of the Kennedy Round and its general effect of significantly reducing tariffs into the country.

The hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) raised the question of hops, and it might be helpful if I said exactly what the position will be in respect of hops. Hops will only be entitled to entry free of duty if they are grown in the Irish Republic. Hop oil and hop extracts will only be entitled to free entry if they are manufactured in the Republic, and not less than 25 per cent. of the cost of manufacture is attributable to expenditure within the Anglo-Irish free trade area. This was agreed as part of the free trade area agreement.

The hon. Gentleman had doubts as to the reliability of certificates of origin. We have no reason to doubt that certificates of origin issued in the Irish Republic are other than reliable. He regretted the failure to reach an agreement on concessions on lorries and tractors, and that regret is common to both sides of the House. He also regretted the inability to secure abolition of the American wine gallon assessment. This is something we tried to achieve, but we were unsuccessful.

As I said in my introductory speech, we are doing something for the less developed countries. We should have done more, for example, on tropical products, if other developed countries had been prepared to do more. We recognised that if we did more unilaterally this would erode Commonwealth Preference, and, therefore, we were limited in the extent to which we could go.

I question whether the second U.N.C.T.A.D. was a failure. One of the important agreements at U.N.C.T.A.D. related to the proposal for generalised preferences. If this can be brought to fruition, it will be of far greater significance to the underdeveloped countries than anything done in the Kennedy Round.

I was asked three questions by the hon. Member for Blackpool, South. The first was as to what steps are being taken by other countries to implement their obligations. Twelve countries started on 1st January, 1968. Twenty-one countries, counting the E.E.C. as one, are starting on 1st July, 1968. The programme is going according to plan.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds asked me why we chose to start with 40 per cent. on 1st July, 1968, with subsequent 20 per cent. reductions on 1st January, 1970, 1971 and 1972, rather than the system adopted by the Americans, who have started on 1st January, 1968. The answer is that this is what is being done by E.E.C, and we wish to keep in step with the Community.

The hon. Member for Blackpool, South made a point about chemicals, describing the background situation there which I need not repeat, but asking what was the latest position. I can tell him that it is reported that a Bill is to be introduced into the United States Congress to include provision for the abolition of A.S.P. The hearing before a committee will open on 4th June, and it is expected that the American selling price valuation will be covered by it. So there is some sign of movement on that question.

The hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for St. Edmunds both raised the problem of incipient protectionism which they felt was beginning to appear in the United States. Reference was made to the offer which this country E.F.T.A. and E.E.C. have made in an attempt to avoid that development in the United States. It is a substantial offer which we hope will be of value to the Americans in considering their attitude to the problem. However, this does not arise under the Order. If the offer were to be implemented, a separate order would have to be introduced. Otherwise, the new tariff will continue for the 18 months during which the 40 per cent. reduction will apply, and future orders will be necessary to implement the further reductions as they become due.

With those. few remarks, I hope that the House will be willing to agree to the Order.

Question put and agreed to.


That the Import Duties (General) (No. 4) Order 1968 (S.I., 1968, No. 679), dated 30th April, 1968, a copy of which was laid before this House on 14th May, be approved.