HC Deb 18 December 1947 vol 445 cc364-5W
Mr. Tiffany

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the concession gained at Geneva on synthetic rubber consumption has been vitiated by the words "reclaimed rubber," as set out in the Schedule to the agreement; and what steps he is taking to counteract this.

Mr. H. Wilson

It is quite true that a misunderstanding arose in the last stages of the Geneva negotiations. The United States Delegation made it clear at an early stage that they were anxious to secure reductions in the preferences accorded by the Colonies, and we finally agreed to the concession in Section C of Schedule XIX of the General Agreement. We attached a condition, however. This concession could be suspended if United States regulations required more than a certain percentage of consumption of general purpose synthetic rubber. Unfortunately, there was no time for the full consultation we should have wished about the drafting of this condition, and it was only a few days after the close of the Conference that it became clear that the Clause did not in fact provide for the result we had intended.

We at once took the matter up with the United States Government, and I am glad now to be able w tell the House that they have replied that they, too, would prefer that an undertaking on which there is not full accord between us should be suspended. It has accordingly been agreed that the concession in respect of the Colonial preferences and the condition about rubber should both be held over pending re-negotiation. It is understood that this arrangement does not involve relinquishing the concessions on either side, but leaves both sides free to agree mutually satisfactory terms to adjust them before they are brought into force.