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Television Sets (Imports)

Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he proposes to meet the threat to the United Kingdom television manufacturers from the proposed importation of approximately 200,000 monochrome sets from Thailand.

I have discussed this matter fully with representatives of management and trade unions in the industry. My Department is continuing to monitor closely the rate of importation and is exploring the possible courses of action if that rate should rise unacceptably.

May I thank my hon. Friend for his considerable personal interest and concern in this matter? Does he agree that the best course for all concerned, including the manufacturers in Thailand, would be to agree revised quotas for all importers of monochrome television sets into this country?

I am not sure whether what my hon. Friend wants is possible. One of the options that we are pursuing is a voluntary restraint arrangement agreed between our industry and that in Thailand.

May I reiterate that we feel that it is essential for the future of the British monochrome television industry that some form of voluntary restraint agreement is reached with the Thais?

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right. That is why we are pursuing that objective as a matter of great urgency.

Quite apart from the world markets with which Britain trades, we have a special interest in article 3(f) of the EEC Treaty of Rome. Will the hon. Gentleman pay particular attention to that article and ensure that it is put on the agenda for discussion when Ministers meet in Brussels or elsewhere in Europe?

I never like to mislead the House and I should not like to do so by pretending that I know what article 3(f) says. I know that the hon. Gentleman always makes serious points and I shall look at the matter and write to him.