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Wednesday, 8 May 1957

Mr McEWEN - There is a number of Tariff Board reports which can be tabled shortly. 1 undertake to table all reports, subject to a reservation which I shall mention. Those that can be tabled will be tabled before this sessional period ends, but 1 cannot undertake to table, before the sessional period ends, every Tariff Board report that has been presented, for a reason which, I am sure, the Parliament will understand, lt is a reason that has been traditionally understood by the Parliament. The Tariff Board's function is to report to the Government, but there is no obligation upon the Government to accept the board's report. That is an historic fact. The Government cannot decide whether it will accept or reject a report until that report has been examined at its own level - often an inter-departmental officials level. If a report recommended a substantial increase in duty, it would be quite improper to reveal that fact before the Government had decided to take the appropriate parliamentary steps to increase the duty - in short, to make the whole business community aware that a substantial increase in duty had been recommended. But to permit a hiatus to occur between the publication of the recommendation and the Government's decision to take action would, of course, lend itself to taking advantage of a " release from bond " situation, which no government in the history of this country has ever condoned.

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