HL Deb 29 July 1953 vol 183 cc1014-5

2.44 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, complementary to the large public funds indirectly being made available for the erection of new factories, they are yet able to indicate their intention to return to the earlier basis of permits for the import of machinery duty-free, where such machinery is of a prototype not currently made in this country, and where its installation would contribute to lower operating costs.]


My Lords, an independent Committee has been set up to review the question of duty-free entry of machinery. The terms of reference of the Committee are: To consider and report whether it is in the national interest to provide for the duty-free admission into the United Kingdom of machinery, either by classes or in individual consignments; and, in this connection, to review the provisions of Section 10 of the Finance Act, 1932, and their administration, and to recommend what changes, if any, should be made. The Chairman of this Committee is Sir Henry Wilson Smith, and its other members are three industrialists with experience mainly as makers of machinery, three with experience mainly as users of machinery, a trade union representative and one independent member. If it is to the convenience of the House, I will arrange for the names of the members to be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT. This Committee began its work immediately on its appointment, and as soon as its report is presented Her Majesty's Government will, of course, consider the matter in the light of the Committee's findings and recommendations.

Following are the names of the Committee referred to:

Chairman: Sir Henry Wilson Smith, K.C.B., K.B.E.

Other members:

The Joint Secretaries to the Committee are Mr. D. P. Brearley (Board of Trade) and Mr. D. M. J. Gwinnell (Ministry of Supply).


My Lords, arising out of that reply, which establishes the fact that duty-free import is not possible now whereas it was earlier, may I ask the noble Lord how soon he expects that the Committee will be able to report, and whether he can see his way to representing in the proper quarter that because of the amount of money spent on buildings it is important that the duty-free import of machinery should be restored? And will he bring home the necessity for an early report?


My Lords, I understand that the Committee hope to report in about November or December of this year. But, as the noble Lord will appreciate, the matter is a complex one, and that hope may be a little optimistic. With regard to the second half of Lord Barnby's supplementary question, I will see that the point he has made is brought to the notice of the Committee.