Butter Imports

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th May 1958.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell 12:00 am, 13th May 1958

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about measures to meet complaints from farmers, firms, organisations and Governments at home and in other parts of the British Commonwealth and Europe regarding imports of butter from Sweden and Finland, having regard to the fact that there is a case of dumping.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now state the result of his discussions with the New Zealand Government about butter imports.

Photo of Mr Anthony Hurd Mr Anthony Hurd , Newbury

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has now reached a decision on the validity of the complaint made by New Zealand and the English Milk Marketing Board on the dumping of butter by foreign suppliers to the United Kingdom market; and whether he will take apropriate action in the national interest under the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act, 1957.

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I am not yet in a position to make a statement, but an announcement will be made very shortly—I hope, early next week.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Is my hon. Friend aware that a satisfactory statement about effective action is eagerly awaited by all who are concerned not only for the prosperity and interests of our fellow subjects in New Zealand but for the future of the British export trade to that country?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I would rather not say anything which would in any way forestall the statement.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

Why have we been fobbed off by all these vague words, repeating exactly what the Minister said last week? What have our good friends in New Zealand done to merit the disgraceful treatment meted out to them by the present Government?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

The hon. Gentleman is forgetting that this is only the second dumping decision which we have had under this comparatively new legislation. I do not think that the House will expect me to make any apology for the fact that very weighty consideration has had to be given to all the matters involved here, including submissions from many Governments.

Photo of Mr Anthony Hurd Mr Anthony Hurd , Newbury

As this is clearly such a complex matter and many other countries appear to be dumping one kind of food or another in the United Kingdom, will the Government, once they have reached their decision, issue a White Paper setting out fully the considerations which have weighed in this particular case concerning butter?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I will note my hon. Friend's remarks.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham South

Is the Minister aware that this matter of trade with New Zealand has been a subject of public notice for a considerable number of weeks? Does he realise that the House, which has a great respect for New Zealand, a country which has been a very loyal and co-operative friend of the United Kingdom, feels that undue delay is being experienced here and that it is time the Government reached not only a settlement but a settlement which will, we hope, be favourable to New Zealand?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will note my remark that it is hoped to make an announcement early next week. I must remind him also of the procedure in this matter. We had to give reasonable time for all those concerned to submit their arguments, and they were given until the end of March. I do not, therefore, think that it can be said that a really unreasonable time has been taken to consider the very complicated matters involved.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what quantity of butter has been imported from Poland in the first four months of 1958; what has been the average free on board price per cwt. of these imports; what price the consumer pays for butter in Poland; and whether he is satisfied that these relative prices do not contravene the existing anti-dumping agreements.

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

During January to March, 1958, imports of butter from Poland amounted to 5,796 tons. The figures for April are not yet available.

The Board of Trade has no information about the free-on-board price of these imports, nor about the price the consumer pays for butter in Poland.

With regard to the last part of the Question, there is no anti-dumping agreement with Poland, and the question of contravention of anti-dumping agreements does not arise.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

What does arise is the question whether this butter is dumped contrary to the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act, 1957. Has my hon. Friend no power at all to stop dumped butter from Poland?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

We have received no complaint in regard to Poland. We have, however, recently received representations about the level of Polish butter imports, which we are considering.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

Is my hon. Friend stating that at no time in the course of their discussions have the New Zealand representatives mentioned Polish imports?

Photo of Mr John Vaughan-Morgan Mr John Vaughan-Morgan , Reigate

They may have been mentioned in the course of the wider discussions on New Zealand's agricultural problems which are taking place, in the main, with the Minister of Agriculture. I was referring to a complaint under the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act.