HL Deb 25 November 1981 vol 425 cc843-4WA
Lord Jenkins of Putney

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their latest assessment of the desirability of import controls.

Lord Trefgarne

The United Kingdom is more economically dependent on overseas trade in terms of the proportion of total output we export than any other major industrial nation in the world. It would not be in the United Kingdom's interests therefore for the Government to put up general barriers against imports which would restrict consumer choice, deprive manufacturers of essential supplies of components and raw materials and above all invite retaliation from our trading partners. At the same time, however, the Government arc, and always have been, prepared to consider recourse to protective measures against imports in certain special circumstances, when such measures are consistent with our international obligations. The firm line the Government are taking in the current international discussions on the problem of low-cost textile imports is evidence of our pragmatic approach to this difficult area of trade policy.