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Trade And Commerce

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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Factory Sites, Bishop Auckland

30 and 31.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many factory sites are known to him in, or within two miles of the villages of Cockfield, Woodlands, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Eggleston, Staindrop, Copley, and Butterknowle in the Bishop Auckland constituency;

(2) how many industrialists seeking factory sites have been shown sites in the villages of Cockfield, Woodlands, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Eggleston, Stain-drop, Copley, or Butterknowle since the passing of the Local Employment Act.

The Department is aware of one industrial site within the area specified, but has not shown it to any industrialist since 1st April, 1960.

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that unemployment in the area of the Bishop Auckland exchange is two and half times the national average and that a far higher percentage of unemployment will be found in some of these villages? Cannot he take special steps both to survey the factory sites that are available and then to publicise them to industrialists? His attitude is far too complacent.

We will consider that. The hon. Member has, however, picked out merely a few villages in the area. There are three main industrial sites nearer to Bishop Auckland and they are shown to industrialists first, as they are more likely to be attracted by them.

These are the very areas where the people are out of work, and the transport facilities to get to other areas are not all that good. Will the hon. Gentleman seriously consider the problem of these people and do something about it?

We do take them into consideration and we shall also take into consideration what the hon. Member has said.

United Arab Republic

32 and 33.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) in view of the competition from the European Common Market countries, what proposals he has received on trade to the United Arab Republic Government to hold or increase the traditional British export trade with Egypt and Syria; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what steps he has taken to arrange a trade and payments agreement with the United Arab Republic.

I have heard of various proposals for increasing our trade with the United Arab Republic. This is at present governed by the Financial and Commercial Agreement of 1959. Within its framework, the annual value of our total trade with the United Arab Republic has increased by 32 per cent. in 1960 and by a further 5 per cent. in the first three months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier.

Is it not time that we brought our payments negotiations up to date? If a small country like Austria can make a payment under treaty arrangements, why cannot we? How are British industrialists like the Rootes Group to establish factories in the United Arab Republic unless more attention is paid to helping them?

We pay a great deal of attention to increasing our trade with the United Arab Republic, and the Advisory Council for Middle East Trade helps me to study the problems. I think that when the hon. Member looks at the financial and commercial agreement, he will see that the arrangements we then made are very satisfactory.

Resale Price Maintenance


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to repeal Section 25 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956.

My right hon. Friend will consider this point in the light of his inquiries into resale price maintenance generally.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of a case a few weeks ago in the High Court when the Addis Brush Company, of Hertford, obtained an injunction against a retailer for selling its brushes below the fixed retail price and that the defence of the retailer was that had he not done so, it would have shown him a profit of 87 per cent.? Is that the intention that the Government had in mind when they brought in Section 25, and what do they propose to do about it?

This is one of the aspects which my right hon. Friend will be considering together with all other considerations arising from his inquiries.

Non-Ferrous Metals (Export To Russia)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will explain the reason for the fall in the export of non-ferrous metals to Russia in 1960 as compared with 1957, 1958 and 1959.

Soviet imports of non-ferrous metals are mainly copper. I understand that the Soviet Union is now importing this from other producing countries, including Rhodesia, rather than through the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman has not given the reason why that is being done. Is it not in the long run due to the fact that we are refusing to admit into this country any quantities of a certain number of Russian exports and that this process which has taken place in copper will continue to be repeated unless we reverse that policy? Is there any reason why we should not give Russia most-favoured-nation treatment, as Canada does, which is a method that works successfully?

I can only surmise at the reason of the Soviet authorities for not buying their copper from us. I think, however, that the reason is that the strategic control on copper has been removed and the Russians are now free to buy from whatever source they wish, whereas formerly they bought from us a large quantity of copper wire. The other points in the hon. Member's supplementary question do not have a bearing on the matter of copper. As regards most-favoured-nation treatment, we accord that to Russia in certain respects, and this will be one of the subjects discussed by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade during his visit to Moscow.

Polish Eggs


asked the President of the Board of Trade when he received a communication from the National Farmers' Union asking him to ascertain the internal price of eggs in Poland; and what period elapsed between the receipt of this communication and his acceptance of the formal application for anti-dumping measures to be applied to the import of Polish eggs.

The Board of Trade was asked on 30th March to ascertain the internal price of eggs in Poland. The application for anti-dumping measures to be applied to the import of Polish and Roumanian eggs was received on 19th April and accepted for full investigation on the following day. Before a full investigation can be made, there must be some evidence not only of dumping but also of material injury to the affected industry.

Could my right hon. Friend give some idea of what went on between 30th March and 19th April? Is he aware that his reply indicates that it took twenty-seven days to come to a decision on the matter, by which time tens of thousands of Polish eggs had been dumped in this country?

I think that my hon. Friend ought to ask the National Farmers' Union what it was doing in that period, because that was the time between its request to us to ascertain the price and the date of the application. It would not be appropriate for him to add those days to the short period of nine days which we required for our investigation and decision.

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that there is nevertheless something very unsatisfactory about the anti-dumping procedure in connection with trade with Iron Curtain countries? Would not he admit that it is very difficult for producers to establish whether dumping is taking place or not in view of State trading and other conditions that exist in these countries? Will my right hon. Friend have an inquiry made into the whole anti-dumping system?

It is, of course, difficult for private individuals and organisations to establish these prices and that is why we give all the help we can. That is why the National Farmers' Union approached us on 31st March, to find out the internal price. As for anti-dumping legislation in general, I ask my hon. Friend to remember that we operate in accordance with a Statute passed by this House. While that may have certain defects in my hon. Friend's eyes, in our view it represents a reasonable compromise between conflicting interests.

Is it not remarkable that hon. Members opposite get hot under the collar about the importation of Polish eggs but not a word issues from their lips about the importation of American coal?

I think that my hon. Friends are perfectly right to make known the views of their constituents on an important matter in this House just as hon. Members opposite make known the views of their own constituents.

Industrial Building


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will state the rate of new industrial building for the years 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and to the latest available date in 1961, in the northern, midland, and southern regions of England, giving each region separately.

As the Answer involves a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the figures reveal that the rate of new industrial building has declined in the northern region over past years, and particularly in northeast England, whereas in other regions it has increased rapidly? Can he tell us what the Government intend to do or what policy they intend to pursue to bring about a more equal distribution of industry in the country?

No, Sir. The year 1957 was a period of high construction after which there was a dip in 1958. Since then there has been an increase in all three regions.

Following is the information:

The areas, in millions of square feet, covered by Industrial Development Certificates issued in the three standard regions were:

Standard Region19571958195919601961 Jan.-March

European Common Market (Common Tariff Rates)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in the course of his negotiations with representatives of the European Common Market, he has obtained information about the rates of import duty which those countries intend to impose as part of their common external tariff, on the principal foods and raw materials; and what these rates of duty are on beef, mutton, lamb, wheat, bacon, butter, cheese and tea, respectively.

All common tariff rates of import duty except for some tobacco and petroleum headings have now been published by the European Economic Community. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the details for the eight foodstuffs in question.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the duties on the foodstuffs mentioned range from about 18 per cent. to 25 per cent. or 30 per cent., and that it would be impossible to impose these high food taxes on present tariff-free food imports into the United Kingdom without a serious effect on our cost of living, our standard of living and our industrial costs?

The rates actually vary from 12 per cent. to 25 per cent., but of course we recognise the importance of the effect that these duties would have, and this is one of the matters that we take fully into account in our consideration of the whole complex problem.

Would the right hon. Gentleman make it clear now that the Government would not in any circumstances impose these high rates of food taxes on imports?

I should not like to say anything now while there is going on in the House an important debate which deals largely with these problems.

Following is the information:

The common tariff rates asked for are as follows:

Per Cent.

beef; fresh, chilled or frozen (meat and offal)20
beef; sailed, in brine, dried or smoked (meat and offal)24
mutton and lamb; fresh, chilled or frozen:
mutton and lamb; salted, in brine, dried or smoked (meat and offal)24
bacon; salted, in brine, dried or smoked25
tea; in immediate containers of a net capacity of 3 kg. or less23

New Factories


asked the President of the Board of Trade what percentage, measured by square feet, the total of new factory approvals of over 5,000 square feet in the London and South Eastern Region represented of total approvals in Great Britain in 1958, 1959, and 1960, respectively; and whether he will give similar figures for areas now classed as development districts under the Local Employment Act.

These percentages in respect of schemes mainly of over 5,000 square feet for 1958, 1959 and 1960 respectively for the London and South Eastern Region were 21, 18 and 12, and for the areas now classed as development districts 10, 15 and 20.

Although this shows some welcome decrease in factory development in London and the South Eastern Region, may I ask what the figures would look like if office developments were included?

That is an entirely different question. I am afraid that I could not answer it without notice.