Import Surcharge

Oral Answers to Questions — United Nations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1964.

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Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford 12:00 am, 14th December 1964

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs at what time and on what date the decision of Her Majesty's Government to impose the 15 per cent. surcharge was imparted to the United States Government; and by what method this information was conveyed.

Photo of Mr Stephen Hastings Mr Stephen Hastings , Mid Bedfordshire

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs on what date, at what time, and how, the Governments of the United Kingdom's partners in the European Free Trade Asosciation were informed of Her Majesty's Government's intention to impose a 15 per cent. surcharge on imports.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs on what dates, at what times, by what methods, and where, notification of Her Majesty's Government's unilateral decision to impose a 15 per cent. surcharge on imports was given to the United States of America, the European Free Trade Association, and other European countries, respectively.

Photo of Mr Walter Padley Mr Walter Padley , Ogmore

Messages were sent through British Embassies over the weekend of 24th and 25th October to the Governments of the countries of the European Free Trade Association and of the United States, in which full notification was given of the measures to be announced on 26th October. Messages were sent to the Governments of other European countries at the same time as the measures were announced.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

Could the hon. Gentleman be more forthcoming? Could he tell us the true facts of this case? Were our American allies in fact informed about this matter 48 hours before our E.F.T.A. partners? Can we have an answer, yes or no?

Photo of Mr Walter Padley Mr Walter Padley , Ogmore

I can assure the House that any difference in the timing of the messages to these Governments was not significant.

Hon. Members:

Oh.

Photo of Mr Stephen Hastings Mr Stephen Hastings , Mid Bedfordshire

Could the hon. Gentleman make plain what, in these circumstances, he regards as a significant delay? If it was 48 hours, is he saying that 48 hours in these circumstances was insignificant? Is it not a fact that the Americans themselves questioned the wisdom of their having been informed before our E.F.T.A. partners?

Photo of Mr Walter Padley Mr Walter Padley , Ogmore

No doubt the hon. Gentleman refers to the fact that Sir Eric Roll was in Washington. The duties of our Executive Director in the I.M.F., who is also Economic Minister in Her Majesty's Embassy in Washington, were to discuss monetary questions with that body and the United States authorities responsible for the other reserve currency, the dollar. In the course of discussions over the weekend, the I.M.F. and the U.S. authorities were informed of Her Majesty's Government's economic measures.

Photo of Sir Knox Cunningham Sir Knox Cunningham , South Antrim

Would the hon. Gentleman say 48 hours in these circumstances is not very significant?

Photo of Mr Walter Padley Mr Walter Padley , Ogmore

Frankly, in view of the fact that all was due to the bungling—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—of the British economic problems by the party opposite, these supplementary questions really are impertinent.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Reading

Can we have an answer? [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] Were the Americans informed 48 hours before our E.F.T.A. partners?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

On a point of order. In view of the hon. Gentleman's inability to answer this Question, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter at the earliest opportunity.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Why do not hon. Members stand up for their country for a change?

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

On a point of order. I do not know whether I heard aright, but I believe I heard the right hon. Member say something I particularly dislike—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

The target appeared to be of a very general character.