HC Deb 12 May 1931 vol 252 cc1007-8W

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the report of the committee appointed by the French Government to examine the proposals of the British Government for a reduction of tariffs; and whether, in view of the report of that committee that the time has come to negotiate a commercial agreement with Great Britain, he will press on with his negotiations for a reduction of tariffs?


I have seen newspaper reports as to the attitude of certain French industries to the proposals for tariff reductions submitted to the French Government by His Majesty's Government, and the matter has formed the subject of preliminary discussions with French officials who recently visited this country. Detailed negotiations have not yet commenced, but I need not say that I am anxious to take all possible steps which are likely to lead to a reduction in the French and other European Customs tariffs. I am now considering what is the course best likely to lead to this desirable end.


asked the President of the Board of Trade the comparative figures for Great Britain and the United States since the passing of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Bill, showing the number of countries which have raised their tariffs against the products of both countries, and also the fall in the exports of both countries?


A large number of countries have made some increases in tariff rates since 17th June, 1930, the date of passage of the new united States Tariff Act, and in some 20 to 30 cases the increases may be regarded as important in scope or amount Except in the case of Empire countries the increased rates of duty resulting from such revisions are, generally speaking, applied equally to imports from the United States and the United Kingdom, and I am afraid I cannot give any indication as to the extent to which such increased duties are aimed at, or affect, American or British goods. As regards the last part of the question, the total exports from the United Kingdom during the nine months ending 31st March, 1931, as compared with the same period a year earlier declined by £184,528,000, or 30.3 per cent., and in the case of the United States, by £260,658,000, or 33.9 per cent.