Charge of Import Deposits

Part of Clause 1 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1968.

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Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash 12:00 am, 3rd December 1968

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the Italian scheme did not involve the payment of the six months deposit, which is what we are now arguing about. We are talking about this freezing of liquidity which is described as a selective squeeze on the liquidity of importers. That is where it differs from the Italian scheme.

Mr. Catherwood was right in saying recently that Britain's balance of payments gap will only be closed, or the improvement will only come about, not through a restriction on imports, with all the consequential tendencies for world trade to contract and be de-liberalised, but through an upsurge and expansion of world trade. The nature of our position is such that, on the whole, our imports are relatively inelastic—a lot of them represent food and raw materials which we must always have in certain quantities.

Given an increase in world trade on the whole, there is more likelihood of our exports going up and our imports remaining steady than the other way round. We benefit in logic and by our structural position by an increase in world trade. What the Government should not now be doing is introducing into the world trade situation a deliberalising measure arid, above all, giving to our E.F.T.A. partners the answer on a plate. If our E.F.T.A. partners adopt the Government's case and say that they can do the same, we shall be the losers.