HC Deb 07 March 1986 vol 93 cc293-4W
Mr. Alan Howarth

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the current situation in the tin market.

Mr. Alan Clark

The Government regret that the protracted negotiations between the International Tin Council and its bank and broker creditors have now broken down, without reaching agreement to resolve the tin crisis.

We have constantly made it clear, following suspension by the ITC of its operations in the tin market on 24 October last with gross commitments exceeding £800 million, that the United Kingdom was prepared to accept its share of the liabilities of the ITC, and we called on all other members to do likewise.

It is especially unfortunate that the breakdown of negotiations has come at a time when substantial progress had been made towards resolving the tin crisis in an orderly fashion. Had the ITC member countries collectively shown a greater sense of urgency and responsibility from the outset, a solution might have been found. Discussions between members of the EC were protracted and formal negotiations by the ITC began only at the end of January. However, the final breakdown of negotiations was caused by the refusal of some producer countries to accept the proposals.

At this late stage it seems unlikely that a settlement can now be reached in order to secure a return to orderly trading in tin. If a substantial number of other ITC countries are prepared to make a new effort to resolve the crisis, the Government would, of course, be willing to join such discussions. But it must be clear, as it has been throughout the earlier discussions and negotiations, that the United Kingdom Government are not prepared alone to take over the responsibility for the ITC's debts.

The Government deplore the failure of certain other Governments to agree to meet their share of the commitments of the ITC. This failure undermines good faith and integrity in international financial dealings.