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The following Members took and subscribed the Oath or made the Affirmation required by law :

Margaret Eve Hodge, for Barking.

Gerard Sutcliffe Esq., for Bradford, South.

Judith Ann Church, for Dagenham.

David William George Chidgey Esq., for Eastleigh.

Stephen Creswell Timms Esq., for Newham, North-East.

Points of Order

3.37 pm

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you advise me whether the procedure in Prime Minister's Question Time has changed, because I have always understood it to be the case that when hon. Members ask the Prime Minister questions, the Prime Minister answers those questions ? If you look at Hansard , you will see that he now spends most of the time asking questions. Should not we either get extra time for that or refer the issue to the Procedure Committee, because it is becoming quite outrageous ?

Madam Speaker : That is the first bogus point of order for today. As the hon. Gentleman and the House know, the Speaker is not responsible for answers given by Ministers. If the hon. Gentleman has a point to take up, he must do so directly with the Prime Minister. Several hon. Members rose

Madam Speaker : Order. I hope that the second point of order will not lead to a rush of points of order, many of which are bogus.

Ms Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I ask that you make it your business to look at how we can raise matters of real importance during Prime Minister's Question Time ? I particularly draw your attention to the fact that the wreck of the MV Derbyshire has now been found under the South China sea and there is a call to reopen the public inquiry. Would not it be proper that, through Prime Minister's Question Time, we could at least question the Prime Minister on whether he is prepared to reopen the inquiry or, if not, to make use of the ships that are now in that area to get to the bottom of it ?

Madam Speaker : Order. It is a total abuse to raise new material at this time by means of a point of order. The hon. Lady, I am sure, is well aware that there are Adjournment debates, for which she can enter her name in the ballot, and I might look kindly on her and allow her an Adjournment debate on that matter in future.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No.101(3)(Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.), That the draft Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order 1994 be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.--[ Mr. Wood.]

Question agreed to.

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Regulation of Cosmetic Surgery

3.39 pm

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) : I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish registration procedures for cosmetic surgeons in order to set minimum standards of training and practice ; and for related purposes.

How many of us have wished at some stage in our lives to change the shape of our noses, our waistlines or some other feature ? As we grow older, we may long to get rid of the bags under our eyes and the spare tyres round our middles.

In Britain, 60,000 people a year now opt for cosmetic surgery to do just that, and they are spending millions of pounds. Clinics in the private sector offer a multitude of different procedures to improve most parts of the human body. In our current society, which places such a heavy emphasis on youth and good looks, such clinics often claim to offer the quick, easy, painless and permanent route to a perfect physique and a wrinkle-free face.

Although plastic surgery in the national health service is generally very safe, the NHS--as we well know--is bursting at the seams, and there are long and growing waiting lists. Consequently, those who are in medical need of plastic surgery--such as burns victims, cancer patients or those with limb deformities--tend to be treated first, while those desiring cosmetic surgery are turned away. Some unscrupulous cowboys have identified and exploited the demand that the NHS is unable to meet ; as a result, people are being permanently scarred and even losing their lives--so far, without the Government's batting an eyelid.

The fact is that anyone can set up shop as a cosmetic surgeon, with no qualifications at all. Indeed, unless such people specifically claim to be doctors or surgeons, they will not even be committing any offence. As soon as the so-called surgeon obtains the prospective patient's consent, he can legally operate without any expertise whatever. Horrifying though it may sound, even members of the Government could perform liposculpture in a private clinic ; as long as they did not lie--which, of course, they never do!--it would be perfectly legal.

Most of the mistakes made by these butchers are rectified by plastic surgeons practising in the NHS. To repair botched surgery can take several operations and cost up to £10,000--a cost which, of course, is borne by the NHS. There can also be a long wait for surgery, especially as the disfigurements involved, although horrific, are not life-threatening.

Many such clinics gain a good deal of business from advertising in national newspapers and women's magazines. They use misleading images and claims, offering "the looks you always desired" or "to change your whole outlook on life". The Advertising Standards Authority has written to me providing a number of existing guidelines for cosmetic surgeons. They state that no advertiser should take improper advantage of any characteristic or circumstance that may make consumers vulnerable--for example, by exploiting their credulity, or their lack of experience or knowledge, in any manner detrimental to their interests. No categorical statements should be made, such as "walk-in, walk-out procedure" or "always a minor procedure", especially in the case of liposculpture. That is because any form of invasive surgery may involve complications.

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Those guidelines, nevertheless, have been systemically broken by many disreputable operators. In order to create the illusion of credibility, clinics claim that their surgical staff are Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons. That may very well be true, but the particular surgeon could be a pathologist with no expertise or experience in cosmetic surgery. To draw an extreme comparison, let us imagine a Boeing 747 being piloted by someone who trained on crop-spraying planes.

The president of Royal College of Surgeons, Professor Norman Browse, wrote to me stating :

"it is the College's view that no person should perform surgical procedures unless they are properly trained."

Even our animals have better protection. At the moment, doctors cannot operate on an animal unless they qualified as a vet, yet, as things stand, a vet could perform cosmetic surgery on a member of the public. Such unprofessional conduct may well result in the vet being struck off, but in practice this would not stop him or her continuing to practise cosmetic surgery in the private sector.

The medical profession has always been controlled and regulated by strict ethics. However, with the huge sums of money now involved in private cosmetic surgery, the voluntary codes of practice have been breached by some outfits to make quick, easy money. Those cowboys perform surgery in the most appalling conditions at great risk to the patient. A woman who got in touch with me was given liposculpture in a ground floor office in Harley street. She said :

"I think the operating table was a dental chair. They asked me to turn over onto my stomach, or my side, but the chair was the wrong shape and it was very difficult. I was asleep most of the time, so I think that the anaesthetic must have been a general.

At some stage during the operation (I was told that it was towards the end) I woke up. I was in tremendous pain and began screaming. They were still taking fat from my legs. The doctor told me afterwards that he had to continue with me awake, or my legs would have been uneven. It hurt me badly. My legs were uneven." The procedure is advertised in women's magazines as "minor and gentle". It turned out that the cosmetic surgeon was a general practitioner. He had performed a surgical operation without any surgical training and had administered a general anaesthetic without an anaesthetist.

At present, clinics that offer only "day-care" surgery can exploit a loophole in the law which means that they do not need any facilities to cope with the emergencies and complications which can arise with some of the procedures involved in cosmetic surgery. That type of "office surgery" is highly dangerous and needs to be stamped out.

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The level of official complaints is relatively low, but that is due to the complex psychological attitudes involved. The General Medical Council believes that

"patients seeking cosmetic surgery may frequently be

psychologically vulnerable and may not have the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision."

If an operation worsens a disfigurement that was causing great distress, or creates a new one, the victim will obviously be increasingly embarrassed and filing a complaint is probably the last thing on his or her mind. One such victim told me that when her surgery went wrong,

"It shattered my whole life"

and left her "feeling suicidal".

Victims who complain have to follow a complex and potentially confusing set of procedures. To prosecute for negligence they must sue the doctor involved ; this is costly and drawn out, requiring patients to draw attention yet again to their disfigurement. The clinics advertise free glossy brochures to advise potential customers but the brochures are designed to encourage people to have as much done as they can afford. The aim is to sell body parts by mail order. Surgeons at such clinics often work on commission, so the more operations they perform, the more money they pocket. The problem has been swept under the carpet for far too long. It is a complex subject, but too many people are suffering acutely at the hands of cowboys who have been given a free rein to abuse the British public's trust in the voluntary system of medical ethics. The Under- Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville), has said that it is not a matter for the Department of Health, but the responsibility clearly lies with the Department. Action must be taken as soon as possible to stop any more innocent people being subjected to this butchery at the hands of some greedy and unscrupulous people.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mrs. Ann Clwyd, Mr. Chris Mullin, Mrs. Alice Mahon, Ms Dawn Primarolo, Miss Emma Nicholson, Mrs. Teresa Gorman, Mr. Stephen Byers, Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours, Mrs. Helen Jackson, Mr. Elliot Morley, Mr. Brian Sedgemore and Ms Angela Eagle.

Regulation of Cosmetic Surgery


Mrs. Ann Clwyd accordingly presented a Bill to establish registration procedures for cosmetic surgeons in order to set minimum standards of training and practice ; and for related purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 15 July, and to be printed. [Bill 125.]

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn-- [Mr. Wood.]

[Relevant documents : The White Paper on the Uruguay round of multi- lateral trade negotiations 1986-94 [Cm. 2579], Miscellaneous (Nos. 13 and 15 to 30, 1994), Agreements, done at Marrakesh on 15th April 1994, establishing the World Trade Organisation [Cm. 2556 to 2559, 2561, 2562, 2564 to 2569 and 2571 to 2575] and Miscellaneous (No. 14, 1994), Final Act, done at Marrakesh on 15th April 1994, embodying the results of the Uruguay round of multi-lateral trade negotiations with ministerial decisions and declarations and understanding on commitments in financial services [Cm. 2570].] 3.50 pm

The Minister for Industry (Mr. Tim Sainsbury) : The conclusion of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations on 15 December 1993 brought to an end seven years, two months and 25 days of complex and often fraught negotiations. I shall concentrate on what the negotiations achieved --a further crucial contribution to higher world growth, more open world markets and a more stable climate for international trade--but I begin by putting this achievement in its historical context.

The Uruguay round was the eighth round in the 47-year history of GATT, the general agreement on tariffs and trade. Like all previous rounds, one of its principal aims was to reduce tariffs--the most obvious and, when GATT was founded, the most serious barrier to trade. Indeed, the earliest rounds, such as the Torquay round in 1951, were concerned with nothing else.

However, as GATT developed, it became clear that reducing tariffs, although vitally important, was not by itself enough to further the process of trade liberalisation. Starting with the Kennedy round in the mid-1960s, and continuing with the Tokyo round in the 1970s, GATT also began to grapple with extending and amplifying the trade rules to take greater account of the use of other barriers to trade such as anti-dumping measures. The Uruguay round greatly extended that process, bringing new spheres such as services and intellectual property within the trade rules for the first time. It was the largest and most complex series of trade negotiations ever held. Although the Uruguay round has greatly increased the scope and complexity of the trade rules, it is worth remembering that the heart of the rules are the same principles of non-discrimination that have been central to the growth of world trade since 1947--above all, the most- favoured nation, or MFN, principle and the principle of national treatment. I remind the House what the principles involve. The MFN rule requires that all GATT members treat all other GATT members at least as well as they treat their most-favoured trading partner. The national treatment rule prevents countries from protecting their domestic industries by applying internal taxes or regulations differently from imported goods and goods produced at home. Impressive benefits have flowed from the application of these principles in the rules of GATT and from the steady reductions in tariffs through successive rounds of negotiations.

In 1947, tariffs on goods imported by industrialised countries averaged no less than 40 per cent. By the start of the Uruguay round, the figure had fallen to 5 per cent. In volume terms, world merchandise trade has multiplied 12-fold since GATT was established in 1947. The value of that trade rose from about £14 billion in 1947 to nearly

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£2,000 billion by 1991. Countries all around the world have recognised the benefits of GATT membership. The United Kingdom was one of only 23 founding contracting parties to GATT in 1947. Now, there are 123 GATT members, and other countries are in the process of applying for membership--notable among those is China. That indicates how widely the benefits of open trade based on multilateral rules are understood.

The GATT deal that we are discussing today will boost world economic growth. The reduction of both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade will increase opportunities for exporters. Exporters of services will benefit by the inclusion in GATT of intellectual property rights and trading services for the first time. All of us will benefit as consumers from improved choice, lower prices and greater efficiency. The Uruguay round will enable us to look forward to a world with freer trade, more jobs for British workers and higher growth for the UK and, indeed, for the rest of the world. A 1993 World bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study cautiously estimated that the successful conclusion of the round would boost world annual output by more than $270 billion after 10 years. On the other hand, if the forces of protectionism had triumphed and the lengthy negotiations had ended in failure, we would have faced the grim prospect of trade wars, price rises, lower living standards and prolonged recession. That would have been a tragedy, not only for the United Kingdom, but for the OECD countries and for the whole world.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that a great deal of the credit for the success should go to Sir Leon Brittan ?

Mr. Sainsbury : I am happy to agree with my hon. Friend and, later in my speech, I shall refer to some of those to whom we are most indebted for achieving the agreement.

It is worth remembering that trade liberalisation is not a zero-sum game, but a process which leaves everyone better off. By choosing the route of liberalisation, the world's trade negotiators clearly rejected the temptation to resort to protectionism. At a time of stagnation in the world economy, that was a courageous choice for which they deserve congratulations. The benefit will not, of course, all be felt overnight. The results of the round have still to be ratified. At the OECD ministerial council on 7 and 8 June, I and all the other Ministers from the developed world reaffirmed our commitment to implementation of the round by 1 January next year--the target agreed at the Marrakesh conference, which concluded the round in April. While some of the changes that the round will bring will come into force immediately, others, including most of the new tariff reductions, will be phased in over a period of years.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Mo n) : I understand that the Minister may wish to comment on some of the more specific agreements later. However, as he has talked about the phasing in of some of the agreements, will he touch on some of the changes in the agricultural sector, especially whether the current GATT agreement is compatible with the common agricultural policy reforms already agreed and whether he believes, as do the farming unions, that further reforms may be necessary as the GATT agreement comes on stream, perhaps in five or six years' time ?

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Mr. Sainsbury : The hon. Gentleman is right in thinking that I shall be turning to the specific proposals and, as it is a rather complex and wide-ranging subject, perhaps he will forgive me if I deal with his question when I talk specifically about agriculture. It is now easy, safe in the knowledge that agreement has been reached, to assume that that agreement was inevitable and to believe that there was never any risk of failure. I suggest that that would be a mistake. From the very beginning, the Government had to fight hard to ensure that negotiations were maintained and that agreement was secured.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Hear, hear.

Mr. Sainsbury : I am glad to have the agreement of my hon. Friend on that.

In 1986, Britain was among those who argued for the launch of the Uruguay round, and the round started during the United Kingdom presidency of the European Community. We also pressed successfully for the negotiations to be wider than in any previous rounds, including, of course, trade in services, intellectual property rights, investment, agriculture and textiles, all issues of particular importance to Britain. We ensured that the European Commission, the EC's trade negotiator, had the support that it needed to conclude a liberalising deal and was not shackled by restrictive or unrealistic negotiating mandates.

In 1992, when there was the prospect of an EC-US trade war, the Government used our presidency to get both sides around the negotiating table and reach agreement on the oilseeds dispute, which was the cause of the threatened trade war, and on agricultural support and trade policies generally. That deal, which came to be known as the Blair House agreement, formed the basis of the eventual agreement on agriculture within the round- -one of the major sticking points of the negotiations.

Of the countries participating in the round, around two thirds were developing or least developed countries, including some of the poorest of the world's trading nations. On a number of occasions during the round, developing countries took a lead in urging progress on the developed world. That is not surprising, given that those countries would perhaps have suffered worst had protectionism and trade wars occurred.

As I have said, the road to agreement was long and arduous. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who worked to ensure that a successful conclusion was reached. We owe a debt to the negotiators, both Ministers and officials, and to the GATT secretariat. The personal contribution of several individuals stands out.

I acknowledge the work of the two most recent directors of GATT. They are Arthur Dunkel, who was responsible for the Dunkel text, and Peter Sutherland, who brought the round to a conclusion. That was greatly assisted by his energy, determination and good humour. Great credit is also due to a number of other people. The European Community's negotiator Sir Leon Brittan, to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) has already referred, worked tirelessly for the Community's interests without ever losing sight of the wider picture. The United States negotiator, Micky Kantor, played a crucial part in the negotiations.

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Finally, we should not underestimate the contribution made consistently by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on a number of occasions of crucial importance to the success of the round.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West) : I am sure that the House will echo the Minister's comments about the endeavours to complete the GATT round. However, the Minister will undoubtedly be aware of the genuine misgivings of those concerned with overseas aid and development who believe that the overall impact of the GATT round will intensify difficulties that flow from the policies of the World bank and the International Monetary Fund. What initiatives will the British Prime Minister and the European Union take to try to redress those difficulties ? On a domestic note, what success has the Minister had in persuading the Americans to allow much larger access to British wool textiles to the United States ?

Mr. Sainsbury : As I said earlier, I will refer to specific matters such as textiles. It would clearly be remiss of me not to consider textiles and I will deal with that point.

It is a misunderstanding to assume that the round will somehow be other than beneficial to developing countries. That is revealed by the fact that on a number of occasions, particularly after the Commonwealth meeting in Limassol, those countries have taken the lead in urging on the developing countries the fact that we should reach an agreement.

Copies of the agreements that I signed at Marrakesh have been placed in the Library. Hon. Members who have seen them will know that they are complex and, combined, run to many hundreds of pages. When they were placed on the table at Marrakesh for the contracting parties to sign, we assumed that everyone had their copy on the table, only to discover to our horror that only one complete copy of the agreement lay on the table.

Those reluctant to embark upon such weighty bed time reading may be reminded that on 19 May we published a White Paper entitled "The Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations 1986-94". That is a nice, compact White Paper and I recommend it to the House. It provides an extensive guide to the Uruguay round agreements. Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) indicated assent .

Mr. Sainsbury : The hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) obviously agrees with that.

I should like now to draw the attention of the House to certain key features of the agreements which are likely to be of primary importance to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Mark Robinson (Somerton and Frome) : Before my right hon. Friend moves on, may I say that I believe that he has been modest about the British Government's contribution ? Here is an example of Britain working at the heart of Europe and at the heart of the international community and working to ensure that a GATT agreement would be delivered. When we work in that way, it shows how this Government can be effective and are effective and it gives the lie to many of the charges that have been tossed around in the recently concluded European elections.

Mr. Sainsbury : I am happy to agree with everything that my hon. Friend says. In the negotiations, Britain more than punched its weight. We were always in the lead, on the side of obtaining a successful agreement, and an

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agreement which generally liberalised world trade and brought in the new areas. Our influence within the European Union to that effect was very substantial.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Recognising that liberalisation under GATT inevitably means greater penetration of our markets, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman a very simple question ? Does he think that western advanced economies can compete in terms of wage levels with countries such as China, India and south-east Asia ? Does he think that we can compete with those economies on the basis of wage levels ?

Mr. Sainsbury : I was going to answer the hon. Gentleman's question by saying yes, until he started adding wage levels. I put to him the simple point that competition is a much more complex issue than something relating just to wage levels. I commend to the hon. Gentleman "Helping Business to Win". If he reads the White Paper on competitiveness, he may see how British business can compete. I now refer to some of the key features of the agreement. First, there is the proposed World Trade Organisation which will be created as a result of the agreement. Since 1947, the GATT has been applied only provisionally, pending the establishment of an international trade body that never came into being, so after 45 years the GATT must be one of the world's longest lasting provisional agreements, but that is about to change. The agreement that I signed at Marrakesh provides for the foundation of a World Trade Organisation, or WTO. The creation of that organisation will put the GATT on a permanent institutional footing for the first time. The WTO will also provide an institutional structure for the operation of the other trade agreements and understandings concluded as part of the round. Secondly, I draw the attention of the House to the new dispute settlement system, the operation of which will be one of the WTO's key functions. That system will provide an integrated mechanism for resolving disputes between GATT members about their rights and obligations. It is one of the most significant achievements of the round and one which the United Kingdom played a key role in formulating. With more members than ever before--123--and more complex rules, it is more than ever vital that there should be an effective procedure for settling disputes. Although GATT already has a dispute settlement procedure, that procedure has some important weaknesses. The new dispute settlement process, to be conducted under the aegis of the WTO, will do away with many of those weaknesses and it will offer new and significant benefits to industry.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire) : The trade dispute procedure is an important part of the package. Will it speed up the resolution of trade disputes ? Much dumping can happen so quickly that it is only historically noticed. May we have an assurance that there is within the new procedures a speedy way of tackling some of those very difficult trade matters ?

Mr. Sainsbury : I am glad to have the hon. Gentleman's recognition that a speedier dispute settlement system is a very important element. I am a little reluctant to go too much into how it will speed up the process or I will slow

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up my speech, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that at the heart of the new disputes system is a mechanism to make sure that it works quicker, rather than as slowly as it has done in the past.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Will my right hon. Friend give way ?

Mr. Sainsbury : I must not give way too often or no one else will have a chance to speak.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Will the system be likely to cover the very vexed problem of Spanish tomatoes, which are wrecking the horticulture industry in my part of the world and elsewhere ?

Mr. Sainsbury : I shall ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to deal with the detail of Spanish tomatoes, whether sun dried or others.

I can assure the House that any disputes that fall within the GATT system will be open to be resolved through an improved and faster dispute system. The system will be governed by a set of clearly defined time limits relating to the establishment of panels, the adoption of their reports and any remedial action that may result. The new system will also see an end to perhaps the worst fault of the old system--the ability of the losing party in a dispute to block the adoption of the report of a dispute settlement panel which found against them. It was as though the accused could always sit on the jury hearing his case. Under the new system, a GATT contracting party will no longer be able to block an adverse GATT panel report. Instead, if it disputes the soundness of the panel's findings, it can have recourse to an appeal body--the appeal body is also governed by strict time limits--whose findings must be accepted. Once a GATT member is found to be in breach of its obligations, action must be taken to redress the situation.

I turn from the improvements in procedures and the institutional framework and look at the changes of substance that the round will bring. For Britain, one of the key innovations is the extension of the multilateral trade rules to cover services for the first time. That is vital to us because services already account for 23 per cent. of Britain's trade. Indeed, in 1992, our exports of commercial services exceeded £32 billion, making the United Kingdom the fourth largest invisible exporter-- perhaps I should rephrase that and say exporter of invisibles--accounting for 9.6 per cent. of total world invisible exports.

Britain is well placed to gain from the changes. The new general agreement on trade in services--GATS--will introduce central GATT principles to services trade for the first time : notably MFN, which I referred to earlier, national treatment and transparency of regulation. That will provide a more stable and solid framework for services trade than has previously been available.

In addition to the new rules for services, countries have made significant commitments to guarantee access to their markets for foreign firms in a wide range of service sectors. That is only the start of the process. In most cases, countries are offering no more than a guarantee of existing levels of access in certain sectors at this stage. But even that will offer service exporters important security that they will not face new restrictions in those sectors. However, there will also be some genuine measures of

liberalisation. For example, a number of countries will be

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liberalising their markets for value-added telecommunications, and negotiations are continuing in basic telecommunications, financial services and maritime transport services to improve the levels of commitment that countries were prepared to make in December. The crucial achievement is the provision of a multilateral framework within which services trade can grow and flourish. All services sectors are covered by the GATS. The GATS enshrines for services the principle of progressive liberalisation which has paid such dividends for trade in goods. WTO members will be committed to negotiating further liberalisation five years after the agreement comes into force. In the meantime, work will also progress to refine the rules in such areas as the effect of subsidies on services trade.

Another crucial feature of the GATT deal for the United Kingdom is the agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights--TRIPS. The whole of the GATT round was bedevilled by acronyms. The worst of the acronyms that was developed was FOGS--the functioning of the GATT systems. There were moments when those of us who were involved felt that we had gone too much into the fog.

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North) : It is the same today.

Mr. Sainsbury : I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman does not find the clarity of my presentation sufficient for him, but perhaps he will listen attentively.

British industry must innovate if it is to be competitive. It is vital that new technology and ideas are protected. British companies need to be sure that they will reap the proper benefits of their innovation. That is why intellectual property protection is so important. Unfortunately, at present many countries do not offer the same levels of intellectual property protection as we do and as are to be found in Europe. Indeed, it is fair to say that some do not offer any effective intellectual property protection at all. As a result, British industry loses many millions of pounds of revenue each year because of abuses of intellectual property rights. For example, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has estimated that £352 million of potential revenue was lost to piracy in Asian markets alone in 1992. This is why the TRIPS agreement is such an important feature of the new GATT deal. I know that a number of hon. Members will be particularly interested in the textiles aspects of the agreement. This will extend GATT rules to bring trade in textiles and clothing fully within the multilateral system. The multifibre arrangement-- the MFA--which currently imposes restrictions on the textiles and clothing exports of 27 countries is to be phased out in four stages over 10 years. That should lead in due course to significantly lower prices for consumers.

However, the Government recognise that the phasing out of the MFA will present the UK textile and clothing industries with difficult challenges. The 10-year phase-out period should allow time to prepare. Moreover, our textile exporters will benefit from lower tariffs in other countries.

Mrs. Elizabeth Peacock (Batley and Spen) : Will my right hon. Friend give way ?

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Mr. Sainsbury : Before I give way, I shall remind my hon. Friend of how succesful our textile and clothing industries are at exporting. In the past five years, they have doubled their exports to the value of £5 billion.

Mrs. Peacock : My right hon. Friend will know of my great interest in textiles and in free and fair trade, and I hope that he will say a word or two about the importance of market access.

While the industry recognises the great work that my right hon. Friend did on its behalf, it is not quite as happy with the access to some of the markets, particularly India and Pakistan which have tariffs of about 100 per cent. The industry is also unhappy about the reduction in our woollen goods to the USA by some 10 per cent. The reduction will take place over 10 years, and is really only 1 per cent. a year. That is not terribly helpful.

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