asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether, in view of the difficulties at present facing the paper tube industry in this country as a result of the recession in the textile trade, he will review the present arrangement under which German paper tube makers are permitted to supply paper tubes to this country without any import licence, whilst the British paper tube industry is not permitted to purchase paper from Germany for the manufacture of paper tubes without first obtaining a licence;
(2) whether, in view of the present difficulties of the paper tube industry arising from the recession in the textile trade, he will review the present scale of Customs Duties applying to paper tubes and cones imported into this country, taking into account that the duty levied on such goods imported into Germany is 27 per cent. as against only 20 per cent. for importation into Great Britain.
Import restrictions are not imposed to protect domestic industries, and we are not aware that the British paper tube industry is being denied access to adequate supplies of paper. We have not received an application for the revision of the import duty charged on these goods, but we should naturally be prepared to consider, on its merits, any such application which the industry concerned might wish to put forward. I would, however, point out that the rate in the German tariff is 20 per cent. not 27 per cent. as stated in the Question.
While thanking my right hon. Friend for that assurance, may I ask if he realises that as a result of short-time working, the paper tube industry is losing many highly skilled operatives at the present time, and that this position is aggravated by the imports of German paper tubes and cones, and does he not think it would be better to stop this importation altogether?