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Rubber Export Duties

Volume 481: debated on Wednesday 29 November 1950

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30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if the new Malayan quarterly export duties on rubber to be fixed on a sliding scale according to prices realised by exporters, will at any range of prices result in the Malayan Government deriving rubber export revenue indirectly from British purchasers of rubber, not from Malayan exporters.

It is always difficult to prophesy exactly what will happen in a matter which depends entirely on the free-play of economic forces, but I do not think that there is any chance of this happening.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, in effect, this export tax will fall on the producer, both great and small, and no one else?

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he proposes to take to ensure that the small native producer of rubber in Malaya is not unduly penalised by the new proposed export tax.

Discussions with representatives of the industry, including small- holders, have been held in Malaya regarding the proposal to raise the rate of export duty on rubber. Representations made during the course of these discussions have received most careful consideration by the Government of the Federation with the object of ensuring that no section of the industry is unduly penalised.

In view of the fact that the original proposals were put forward without consultation, without being submitted to the Legislative Council and have had to be revised at least twice, will the right hon. Gentleman make quite certain that no final decision is taken until all these interests, including the smallholding producer, have been carefully consulted?

The duties have not been finally introduced, and until the rates have been promulgated in Malaya it would be improper for me to make a statement anticipating any announcement.

In view of the present state of the rubber market, how is it possible for the increased tax to be borne by the small or large producer?

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that a great deal of the trouble and uncertainty about this duty has arisen from the statement that only the mechanism of the duty, and not its rate, could be discussed with the interested parties? In view of the general uncertainty, will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement soon about the position which negotiations have reached?