HL Deb 07 February 1956 vol 195 cc773-5

2.36 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to put the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current requirement in dollar exchange for payment by the United Kingdom for films of U.S.A. origin, and should downward review now be contemplated, if, in view of the emphasis laid on increased productivity, consideration can now be given to liberalisation in import of machinery from U.S.A. when of a prototype of which no machine of equivalent performance is manufactured in this country.]


My Lords, dollar expenditure on films is, of course, limited by the terms of the Anglo-American Film Agreement. As a result of negotiations last September, this Agreement was continued for a further year without change. The rate at which dollars are now transferred to the United States under the Agreement is of the order of £8 million. As to imports of productive machinery from the dollar area, licences are issued when the Board of Trade are satisfied that there is no non-dollar alternative available offering roughly similar advantages.


My Lords, arising out of my noble friend's reply, which suggests that £8 million sterling of exchange are being annually used for payment for entertainment films, he did not give any indication that there was a likelihood of that expenditure being reviewed downwards. Is it necessarily excluded that consideration be given to revising the Agreement to lessen the amount of exchange which was required for the present rate of import?


The figure is reviewed periodically and there has been a slight decline. I cannot guess forward, I am afraid, as to whether there will be another decline, but the idea at the back of the noble Lord's mind is, of course, at the back of the minds of those who negotiated this Agreement.


My Lords, arising from the reply to the second part of my question, may I ask the noble Lard whether his attention has been drawn to an article in the Economist of this week on the question of capital investment in the country? Perhaps I may, with your Lordships' indulgence, quote one extract, which states that refraining from consumption … is the resolution of the dilemma, which can make a high volume of productive investment a good thing"—


Order, order!


both in the long run and in the short. If the British community wants to make rapid material progress it must have a high volume of investment… In view of that statement, I would, with your Lordships' indulgence, ask the noble Lord whether he will see that recommendations are made in the proper quarter in connection with the import of machinery from the United States.


The noble Lord asked me if I had read an article in the Economist, which he then proceeded to read. The answer is that I have read it, and I have now had it read to me. Others who have these matters in the forefront of their minds have also, I am certain, taken note of the sentiments to which the noble Lord has given expression.


Would the Minister give particular attention to the call from the Conservative benches for liberalisation of international trade, which is the purpose of the Question?