asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will give for the longest and most convenient stated period of monthly or annual dates the number of cash amounts of imports of footwear from each of the countries of the Six; to what extent import duties were imposed; how entry into the European Economic Community on present terms will affect the increase of such imports; and whether it will be possible to impose import duties and quota restrictions without reference to the Communities.
Figures from 1963 to 1970 are published under Division 85 in the Annual Statement of Trade and, for 1971, in the December, 1971, issue of the Overseas Trade Statistics. These show that imports from the EEC were £20 million in 1971. The current full rates of import duty range from 4p to 20p per pair or 5 to 10 per cent ad valorem. Entry into the EEC is expected to stimulate trade generally in both directions. After entry, we will not be able to impose duties and quota restrictions without reference to the Communities.
Some hon. Members with constituencies in which footwear factories are situated already complain of unemployment and difficulty. Do I take it from that reply that we shall find that shoes from Italy and other Common Market countries will be able to come here without question, without import duties or restrictions of any sort, and that this country cannot say or do anything about it and only the EEC countries can?
It is not possible at present to make valid estimates of the likely growth of trade in footwear, whether imports or exports. The industry carried out a study of the matter at a conference in December. To deal with serious and persistent difficulties, Article 135 of the Treaty of Accession allows the Commission to authorise protective measures during the transitional period.
Is not the matter slightly more complicated than the Minister suggested? For example, the EEC has an agreement with Spain and I understand that certain companies are making arrangements to have footwear produced in Spain, have it brought into the EEC and from there brought into this country, which will create all sorts of difficulties for workers in the footwear industry in this country, who in any case in certain areas like Merseyside already face unemployment problems.