Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 23rd November 1992.

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Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell , Middlesbrough 3:30 pm, 23rd November 1992

The President of the Board of Trade has said that he believes and hopes that the GATT agreement will be concluded by the end of the year in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the G7 countries. Although Opposition Members would welcome a conclusion if it were possible, we accept that there are so many ramifications, difficulties and negotiations that we may be looking at the deadline of 2 March. Of course, that brings in the confluence with the elections in France.

In his statement, the President of the Board of Trade said that the agreements reached in America were "broadly" in line with the CAP reforms in May. The matter is of great importance to the French, and it will have to be dealt with, beyond simply reaching a broadly consistent agreement.

The right hon. Gentleman will remember our last debate on the multi-fibre arrangement when the hon. Members for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock) and for Pudsey (Sir G. Shaw) and my hon. Friends the Members for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) and for Oldham, Central and Royton (Mr. Davies) raised the issue. As he is aware, the multi-fibre arrangement ends on 31 December. Although we welcome his statement that there may be 10 years protection for our textile industry as a consequence of the new GATT arrangements, can he give an undertaking that, between now and 31 December, the multi-fibre arrangement will be extended?