asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what decrease in imports and effect on the balance of payments has been achieved since the inauguration of the imports' deposit scheme; and whether he will now take steps to terminate this scheme on 31st July 1969.
Imports of goods mainly liable to the scheme averaged £235·5 million in the first five months of the scheme. In the previous five months they averaged £243 million. It is not possible to say what imports would have been in the absence of the scheme. The answer to the second part of the Question is "No, Sir".
Do not those figures show a diminution of less than 1 per cent. in the rate of imports? Having regard to the infinitesimal results and minimal outcome after such a brouhaha from the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the importance of the scheme, will he not scrap the scheme as soon as possible and have recourse, without exaggeration, to more effective methods?
I must inform the hon. Gentleman, despite the noise, that his arithmetic is not correct. If he reflects on the figures, he will see that there has been a decrease of 3 per cent.
Since other efforts to control imports have failed lamentably, is it not time the Government gave further consideration to import controls, which some of us have been advocating since 1964?