HC Deb 01 April 1969 vol 781 cc220-1
28. Mr. Tom Boardman

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an undertaking that the Import Deposits Scheme will cease on 5th December, 1969, and will not be revived, so as to enable manufacturers using imported materials to prepare their costings and make their capital budgets.

Mr. Harold Lever

The Customs (Import Deposits) Act ceases to have effect on 5th December, 1969. As my right hon. Friend said on 22nd November when introducing this Scheme, it is not one which could or should be kept in being for more than a limited period and I have nothing to add to that statement.

Mr. Boardman

May we take it from that reply that the Financial Secretary is giving the assurance that it will not be prolonged? Does he not realise how critical it is to industry for its costings, quotations and investment plans to know that the scheme will come to an end after 12 months?

Mr. Lever

My Answer is perfectly clear and I do not think that I can usefully add to it.

Mr. Barnett

Will my hon. Friend publish his estimate of the effects of the scheme on imports and also perhaps publish his estimate of the amounts or the actual amounts received from all sources and the effect on liquidity generally?

Mr. Lever

I will consider my hon. Friend's request, but I must tell him that it is not only predictions as to the future which can be bogus. Assessments of imponderables in the past can be equally unreliable.

Mr. Ian Macleod

Will the Financial Secretary recognise that much has happened since last November and firm up his Answer by simply saying "Yes, Sir"?

Mr. Lever

No, Sir.

Mr. Macleod

Does not the Financial Secretary realise that by giving that last answer he has injected precisely the note of doubt which he could so easily clear up and which will be disastrous if it is left?

Mr. Lever

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong in supposing that there is any doubt about the Government's position. It has been clearly stated.

Mr. Boardman

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.