HC Deb 18 June 1986 vol 99 cc1040-1
13. Mr. Hayes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department is doing about the dumping of foreign goods in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Alan Clark

Anti-dumping action is the responsibility of the European Commission. My Department works closely with United Kingdom industry on the preparation of complaints in order to ensure that appropriate protection is given against unfair competition.

Mr. Hayes

This is all very well and interesting, but is my hon. Friend truly satisfied that the anti-dumping process is sufficiently rapid and effective? If he is not, what will he do about it? Many of my constituents are sick to death of trying to trade with one arm tied behind their backs.

Mr. Clark

I would like it if my hon. Friend could give me specific instances rather than say that a number of his constituents are trading with one arm tied behind their backs. I am keen to help them. It is my principal purpose in this position to assist firms that have suffered from handicaps of this type. If he cares to give me the details.. I will see what can be done. I agree that at present the procedures are rather cumbersome and long drawn-out., and that in many cases the onus of proof is higher than one would like, especially in regard to proving injury, but to some extent we are the captive of Community and GATT rules. To say that nothing is being done is unfair. At present we are involved in 14 cases and further cases are under review. If my hon. Friend passes his constituents" cases on to me, I do not doubt that we shall have some more.

Mr. Haynes

Is the Minister aware that I am aware that the Government are not doing very well on this problem? I realise that the Minister is trying his best to renegotiate the multi-fibre arrangement, but with the Government's attitude it appears that anybody can come from anywhere in the world and dump what they like on these shores. It is about time the Treasury Bench applied for the Chiltern Hundreds.

Mr. Clark

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman, as I am to all hon. Members who express their indignation at what is going on in the so-called international free trading arena. I accept much of the argument that they put to me. Will they give me the benefit of the doubt in the sense that the unfair trade unit itself has been in existence for less than a month and I am doing my best to correct these cases? However, I depend on hon. Members for reference of individual cases. The unit is set up, the personnel are there and we are ready to examine in detail every case that is referred to us.

Sir Anthony Grant

If my hon. Friend wants a specific incident, is he aware that at present in docklands there is a large silo of cement which the Greeks are seeking to dump on the British market? Is he aware that that would cause great harm to British makers of cement, such as Rugby Portland Cement in my constituency? Will he look into the matter and do his best to ensure that an antidumping application is pursued with all due vigour in Brussels?

Mr. Clark

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The House must forgive me if I read. It is the first time this afternoon. Both my Department and the Department of the Environment have maintained close contact with the cement industry and are fully aware of the concern expressed at the threat from an increased level of low price imports. The European Commission has completed the necessary investigation and a formal announcement of its findings is expected shortly.