PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.

CUSTOMS DUTIES (ECSC) (AMENDMENT NO. 8) ORDER 1992

Wednesday 4 November 1992

LONDON: HMSO

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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr. Iain Mills

Ainsworth, Mr. Peter (Surrey, East)

Beith, Mr. A. J. (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Bell, Mr. Stuart (Middlesbrough)

Bermingham, Mr. Gerald (St. Helens, South)

Boswell, Mr. Tim (Daventry)

Grant, Mr. Bernie (Tottenham)

Hague, Mr. William (Richmond, Yorks)

Jessel, Mr. Toby (Twickenham)

Jowell, Ms. Tessa (Dulwich)

Knight, Mrs. Angela (Erewash)

Leigh, Mr. Edward (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Technology)

Lidington, Mr. David (Aylesbury)

Mans, Mr. Keith (Wyre)

Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)

Mullin, Mr. Chris (Sunderland, South)

Pope, Mr. Greg (Hyndburn)

Turner, Mr. Dennis (Wolverhampton, South-East)

Waterson, Mr. Nigel (Eastbourne)

Dr. P. Seaward, Committee Clerk.

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3 Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Wednesday 4 November 1992

[MR. IAIN MILLS in the Chair]

Customs Duties (ECSC) (Amendment No. 8) Order 1992

10.30 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Technology (Mr. Edward Leigh): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the Customs Duties (ECSC) (Amendment No. 8) Order 1992 (S.I., 1992, No. 2623). The order was made on 22 October 1992 and came into force on 24 October 1992. It ensures that any goods imported into the Community from Montenegro cease to be exempted from customs duty. The decision amends European Coal and Steel Community decisions that had exempted from customs duty all imports of ECSC products originating in the republic of Montenegro and the other former Yugoslav republics except Serbia. At present the Customs Duties (ECSC) Order 1987 lists Montenegro among the countries which benefit from the exemption from duty. Since 1 June 1992, however, the members states have agreed to prohibit the import of any ECSC products originating in the republics of Montenegro and Serbia. That agreement to prohibit imports into the Community of all ECSC goods originating in Serbia and Montenegro was implemented in the United Kingdom by Article 5(1) of the Serbia and Montenegro (United Nations Sanctions) Order. That came into force on 5 June 1992 and since that date no ECSC goods have been permitted to be imported into the United Kingdom. The possibility of any ECSC goods originating in Montenegro being imported into the Community is hypothetical at present as long as the ban on imports is maintained. However, since it might be thought odd, or give the wrong impression, to keep Montenegro on the list of countries enjoying exemption from customs duty in respect of imports into the United Kingdom, it has been decided to delete the reference to Montenegro from that list. That is what the order does.

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10.32 am

Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough): This is clearly a technical order that does not seem to have great political connotations for the Committee. However, it is apparent that Montenegro, as part of the new Yugoslavia, is now subject to the United Nations embargo, which is followed by the European Community, so the order expresses a certain political will toward the new Yugoslavia, particularly Montenegro. The order is clearly retrospective, as it came into effect on 24 October. That does not worry us unduly because we are entitled to pass retrospective legislation. I note that it stems from the European Coal and Steel Community, which is part of the European heritage of the European Community and the new European union. Originally, I thought that the order covered only iron and steel and coal products, but the Minister has made it clear that it covers also any imported products from Montenegro. Therefore, the order appears to be technical, to clear up matters and to have no practical significance other than to express the political will to which I referred.

10.34 am

Mr. Leigh: I am grateful to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell), who summed up the position extremely well. The order is, of course, technical. However, I must say that it is not retrospective; it was made on 22 October and came into force only two days later, on 24 October. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments on Montenegro. He is right; the order applies to ECSC products, not to other products, which are covered by the treaty of Rome. Under the original treaty that set up the ECSC, it is necessary for the House to act under the European Communities Act 1972 by moving an affirmative order. I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support and comments.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the Customs Duties (ECSC) (Amendment No. 8) Order 1992 (S.I., 1992, No. 2623).

Committee rose at twenty-six minutes to Eleven o 'clock.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Mills, Mr. Iain (Chairman)

Ainsworth, Mr. Peter

Bell, Mr.

Boswell, Mr.

Hague, Mr.

Knight, Mrs. Angela

Leigh, Mr.

Lidington, Mr.

Mans, Mr.

Marshall, Sir Michael

Mullin, Mr.

Turner, Mr.

Waterson, Mr.