HC Deb 15 December 1975 vol 902 cc936-8
2. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what international discussions he proposes to have regarding the achievement of the Rambouillet commitment to the maintenance of an open trading system.

The Secretary of State for Trade and President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Shore)

We shall continue to play a constructive part in the international organisations concerned with trade and we shall, in particular, work for substantial measures of liberalisation in the GATT multilateral trade negotiations.

Mr. Renton

Following the Prime Minister's talks at Rambouillet and his own recent speeches, will the Secretary of State confirm that he is personally opposed to import controls and assure the House that if extensive import controls are introduced later on, he, at least, unlike his colleague the Secretary of State for Industry, will have the courage to stick to his guns and resign?

Mr. Shore

I shall ignore the latter part of that supplementary question—

Mr. Renton


Mr. Shore

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry will have an opportunity to say what he thinks about the matter and, indeed, about the remarks of the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton).

As for my own position, in principle I am not opposed to the use of import controls. There are special circumstances, well understood and well entrenched in international economic law, when import controls are useful and helpful, but I make no bones about it that at present the great need for the world is to increase and rivive world trade, and, with it, world production. That is where the stress and thrust of policy must be.

Mr. Higgins

We can all agree with the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, but will he give an absolute assurance that, on import controls, the Government will take no action that will infringe any of our international obligations?

Mr. Shore

I have explained already that international economic law provides a number of opportunities and circumstances in which it is accepted that import controls can be used. I do not think that I need go beyond that.