HL Deb 21 December 1954 vol 190 cc563-5

2.41 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they now propose to secure appropriate compensatory relief to British exporters from the effects in overseas markets of multiple exchange rates, such as employed by Uruguay, and from the effects of export subsidies such as employed by France.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the very real difficulties to which my noble friend Lord Barnby refers. I am not quite sure, however, what measures he has in mind as likely to provide compensatory relief to United Kingdom exporters in overseas markets from the effects of multiple exchange rates or export subsidies. Her Majesty's Government's policy is to tackle this problem not by adopting similar measures themselves but at the source. They are seeking, therefore, to secure the withdrawal of export subsidies or other forms of artificial aid to exporters by international agreement. They are actively pursuing this in the present discussions on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade at Geneva and in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for the reassurance that his reply has given me, in view of the vehemence of the memoranda that have been put out by different trade associations complaining of these practices, I would ask him whether, in the event of Her Majesty's Government failing to get relief from these malpractices by the methods at present being followed, he will make representations in the proper quarter that they should have in reserve alternative methods of more drastic character which will be more likely to bring results?


My Lords, of course I will make the representations which my noble friend Lord Barnby desires. I should like to remind him, however, that our present practice has met with some considerable success, notably in the case of Germany, and I very much hope we shall have further successes. That does not mean, of course, that we are prepared to set our faces completely against any more extreme measures if they are required, but I hope that they will not be required and that our present practice will be successful.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord, may I ask him also to bear in mind that the absence of effective action tends to encourage the nation concerned to use these practices in a wider field?


My Lords, I am sorry, but I cannot wholly agree with the noble Lord, in that I think there is a general feeling internationally today that these practices are undesirable, and that more and more people are coming round to the views of the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, and, indeed, of Her Majesty's Government.

Forward to