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Machinery Imports

Volume 464: debated on Thursday 12 May 1949

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57.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will give the number and types of agricultural machines, giving country of origin, imported into this country during the last six months; and how the prices of such imported machines compare with similar machines manufactured in this country.

The reply to the first part of the Question involves a number of figures, which I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT. No close comparison can be made between prices of home manufactured and imported machines because of differences in types, models and sizes, but the prices of imported machines are generally somewhat higher.

Following are the figures:

Imports of the main types of agricultural machinery in the six months ended 31st March, 1949, were as follow:

MachineCountry of originQuantity
Tracklaying tractorsU.S.A.202
Wheeled tractorsU.S.A.371
PloughsCanada300
Eire60
Belgium54
U.S.A.13
DrillsCanada528
Eire103
Sweden19
MowersFrance450
Eire195
BindersCanada980
Combined harvestersU.S.A.250
Canada214
Germany67
Pick-up balersU.S.A.964
Germany30

58.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that works manufacturing agricultural machinery in the development area of South Wales, where there are large numbers of unemployed, are being handicapped by the importation of such machinery from abroad; and if he will take steps to permit British firms to meet our own needs in this respect before any more is brought from other countries.

I am not aware that home manufacturers are so handicapped. Every encouragement is being given to home manufacturers to expand their output of all kinds of agricultural machinery, and imports are confined almost entirely to items that are not yet available in sufficient numbers from home sources.

While that reply gives me some satisfaction, may I ask my right hon. Friend if he will inquire into works which are manufacturing agricultural machinery, particularly in the South Wales Development Area, with a view to seeing whether those works can make a much greater contribution towards the manufacture of such machinery? Is he aware that in the areas where these works are situated very large numbers of men are still unemployed?

If my hon. Friend will bring to my notice any case where the imports of agricultural machinery are adversely affecting local production, I shall be very happy to look into it.

In considering this matter will the right hon. Gentleman also give consideration to the steps which his colleague the Minister of Food is taking and, in the words of the Question:

"Permit British firms to meet our own needs"—
in horticultural products—
"before any more is brought from other countries"?
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.