HC Deb 26 January 1972 vol 829 cc1575-7

12.26 a.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)

I beg to move, That the Import Duties (General) (No. 11) Order 1971 (SI, 1971, No. 2043) dated 16th December 1971, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th December, be approved. The order raises from 10 per cent. to 16 per cent. ad valorem the full rate of import duty on what might for convenience be called low-density polyethylene and polystyrene. Imports from the European Free Trade Area and the Irish Republic which satisfy the requisite conditions will continue to be free of duty.

The tariff application was widely advertised and interested parties were given the opportunity to make known their views to the Department of Trade and Industry.

I shall be able to deal with any points the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Brian Walden) may wish to raise, but at this hour I think that all I need say is that, having regard to all the circumstances, I consider it reasonable to grant United Kingdom producers of low-density polyethylene and polystyrene tariff parity with E.E.C. producers. I therefore commend the order to the House.

12.27 a.m.

Mr. Brian Walden (Birmingham, All Saints)

In view of the lateness of the hour, the Under-Secretary has put forward the order with becoming brevity. As the Opposition have no objection to the order, I do not intend to waste the time of the House.

The trade itself has pressed for this rise in tariff rates. In pressing for it last March, the trade gave a pledge that no price increases would be involved. I hope that that will not be simply a ritual pledge and that prices will not rise. I hope that the Government ensure that the trade knows that the House took note of what it said and expects the trade, therefore, as far as is humanly possible, to honour that agreement and to bear in mind that although from time to time circumstances arise which occasion price increases, the House would not be too pleased, and nor would the Government, if prices were suddenly sharply raised as a result of the passing of the order.

Mr. Anthony Grant

As the hon. Gentleman pointed out, the Government were pleased that the industry publicly indicated last March that it was not its intention to increase domestic prices as a result of any tariff increase but rather to increase its capacity utilisation by improving its share of the United Kingdom market. I have no doubt that the industry will take note of what the hon. Gentleman said.

Question put and agreed to.

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