HC Deb 30 November 1938 vol 342 cc436-7W
Sir R. Ross

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Government of Eire have, in contravention of the Agreement of 25th April, 1938, imposed a system of quantitative limitation on United Kingdom products into Eire by means of a system of licences; that, since the coming into force of the said Agreement, Eire imports into the United Kingdom have risen and United Kingdom exports into Eire have fallen; that the favourable balance of trade enjoyed by the United Kingdom as regards Eire has now become an adverse balance; and what steps he proposes to take, in view of these facts?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

The Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and Eire does not prevent the maintenance of existing quantitative restrictions on United Kingdom imports into Eire; but such restrictions will progressively disappear as they are reviewed by the Prices Commission under Article 8. In fact, no new quantitative restrictions have been imposed by the Government of Eire since the signature of the Agreement, except in respect of certain agricultural products, where, in accordance with the provisions of Article 9, duties have been removed and quantitative regulation has been imposed after consultation with the United Kingdom Government.

I am aware of the facts stated in the second and third parts of the question. It must, however, be borne in mind that the main benefits to the United Kingdom of the Trade Agreement will accrue gradually as the Prices Commission complete their reviews of the various items of trade. Until some experience has been gained of the working of the Prices Commission procedure, it is too early to consider whether any action is called for on the part of the United Kingdom Government.