Temporary Import Charge

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1965.

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Photo of Mr John Peel Mr John Peel , Leicester South East 12:00 am, 29th November 1965

Quite apart from the moral aspect, I should like to know a little about the practical aspect. The Government seem to think they know that the surcharge is having a very beneficial effect by reducing imports. What we have not yet heard is how much damage they think it is doing to our exports. I am convinced that it caused so much annoyance and anger to our friends and associates abroad that they have taken it out of us in our exports to quite a considerable extent. Further, I should like to know what assessment the Government have made of the undesirable protection that is being given to home industries because that, too, should be taken into account when assessing whether the surcharge should be renewed.

The fact of the matter is that these charges have done us great harm abroad. We need look no further, though we might well do so, for the explanation of the sudden lack of confidence in Britain when this happened. The Prime Minister talked about a crisis of confidence, and it is not surprising that there was that crisis of confidence in us when a country like ours, the most important and biggest in E.F.T.A., the country that took an initiative in forming E.F.T.A., so seriously broke both the letter and the spirit of the treaty. Unfortunately, as long as we keep on these charges the blot upon our good name will continue and confidence in Britain will not be fully restored until they are removed. For those reasons, I shall vote against this Order tonight.