HC Deb 26 June 1969 vol 785 cc1681-2
3. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what studies are at present being carried out by his Department of the United Kingdom propensity to import and of possible measures of import restraint; and if he will make a statement.

5. Mr. Emery

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will make a statement about the consideration by the National Economic Development Council at its meeting on 4th June of methods of controlling the rise in imports.

Mr. Shore

The United Kingdom propensity to import and possible additional action to promote import saving are matters which are studied by my Department in the course of carrying out its general economic responsibilities. The National Economic Development Council is to resume its consideration of exports and imports, including import saving, at its meeting on 2nd July.

Mr. Blaker

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the article in the current issue of the Review of Economic Statistics by Messrs. Houthakker and Magee, which argues that the income elasticity of demand for United Kingdom imports is very much higher than the income elasticity demand for United Kingdom exports? What is his view of that argument?

Mr. Shore

This is, of course, one of the many studies which are being made of import propensities of the United Kingdom, both in the period before devaluation and in the period after. What we are trying now to assess is the change in import propensity since devaluation, but we cannot yet get a reliable estimate of the change in this still relatively short period.

Mr. Emery

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that, if the import deposits scheme ends on 5th November, as is the Government's intention, there will be a slowing down of orders for goods to be imported from now until December, with a major build up in December, January and February. What action do the Government intend to take about this and will they ensure that, in the interpretation of statistics, they take this into account?

Mr. Shore

I think that the hon. Gentleman is exaggerating both the effects of the hold up of goods by the import deposits scheme and, therefore, the consequential speed-up of imports which might follow the ending of the scheme.