§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
As the reply involves many references to figures and dates, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate the information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the information:1619
|Restrictions on importation of British Coal.|
|Country.||Nature and dates of restrictions.||Steps taken by H. M. Government.||Present position.|
|France||…||A quota system for imports of coal, briquettes and certain classes of coke from all countries was introduced on 1st August, 1931. The quota for August was fixed at 100 per cent. Of the average imports for the three years 1929-8, 1929 and 1930, the quota was reduced to 80 per cent, on 1st December, 1931, to 72 per cent. On 1st February, 1932, to 70 per cent. (64 per cent. Plus a margin of 6 per cent.) and on 15th May, 1932, to 50 per cent. With an additional margin of 10 per cent. If there is a demand for the coal together with a monthly supplement of 100,000 tons for the coal importers at maritime ports.||Diplomatic representations were made on the grounds that the method of calculation of the quote and the administration of the licensing system giving effect to the quota were considered to be inequitable to this country.||The position was greatly improved by the withdrawal of the French 15 per cent. Surtax on coal on the 25th February, 1932, and was further improved by the changes of 15th May, 1932, in the quota arrangements which made the position of British coal imports in to France much less unfavourable, in comparison with coal imported from all other countries. The questions of improving the machinery for the issue of licences is at present under considerations by the trade interes's concered.|
|Belgium||…||A quota system for imports of coal and briquettes from all countries was introduced on 15th October, 1931, on the basis of 76 per cent. Of the imports during the year 1930. On 1st February, 1932, the quota was reduced to 70 per cent. Of the average imports during the first six month of 1931, and on 1st April, 1932, to 55.7 per cent.||Diplomatic representations were made on the grounds that the method of calculation of the quota revised on 1st February and the administration of the licensing system giving effect to the quota were considered to be inequitable to this country.||The difficulties experienced have not yet been wholly removed, but the position has recently been improved by the taking over as from the 1st June, 1932, of the licences for British coal by a Committee in Brussels, on which all the British interests concerned are represented.|
|Germany||…||A quota system for imports of coal, coke and briquettes from the United Kingdom has been in force since 1924. On 1st October, 1931, the quota was reduced from 420,000 tons to 300,000 tons a month, on 1st February, 1932, to 200,000 tons, on 1st March to 150,000 tons, and on 1st April to 100,000 tons.||Diplomatic representations have been made on the ground that the restriction is discriminatory against this country.||Negotiations are still in progress. H. M. Government will reply at a very early date to the proposal of the German Government that the matters in dispute should be referred to arbitration.|
|Italy||…||A landing tax of 2½ lire per metric ton was imposed on all coal imports by sea on 1st January, 1932.||Diplomatic representations have been made on the ground that the landing tax applies only to goods imported by sea, and accordingly affects coal from this country to a greater extent than coal from other countries.||Negotiations are still in progress.|
§ Mr. GODFREY NICHOLSON
Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to dispel the delusion that these restrictions are due to the operation of the British tariff?
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Does the hon. Gentleman think that it is a delusion to imagine that the restrictions are not due to the British tariff?
§ 18. Captain PETER MACDONALD
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the additional steps taken by the Government of Germany to exclude British coal imports into that country, and as Dutch coal has been allowed to enter Germany in excess pf the quota without leave, he will now consider the advisability of taking retaliatory action against Germany under the Import Duties Act on the grounds that the British coal export trade is being discriminated against?
§ Mr. JOHN COLVILLE (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
The German Government do not admit that their action involves discrimination against the United Kingdom, and they have proposed that the matter should be referred to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration clause of the Anglo-German Commercial Treaty of 1924 at the same time as certain other Treaty questions outstanding between the two Governments. This proposal is now receiving consideration.
§ Captain MACDONALD
Has any representative been appointed by His Majesty's Government to appear on behalf of the Government?
§ Mr. COLVILLE
As was indicated on that occasion, the German proposal also contains proposals as to other treaty questions outstanding, and that is what has caused the delay, but there will be no avoidable delay.