HC Deb 07 April 1925 vol 182 cc2000-1

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether His Majesty's Government is aware that, during the year 1913, nearly 6,000,000 tons of coal were exported from Great Britain to Russia, whereas in 1924 only 37,630 tons were exported to that country; and whether, in view of the present widespread unemployment in the coalfields of this country, His Majesty's Government will now extend on a commercial basis the provisions of the Trade Facilities Acts to British-Russian trade?


I am aware that the exports of coal from this country to pre-War Russia in 1913, and to post-War Russia in 1924, were as stated by the hon. Member. In reply to the second part of the question, I would refer to the answer given by the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for the Western Isles on the 1st April.


In view of the terrible condition of the coal trade to-day is it not high time the Government approached the Russian Government in reference to this matter?


No, Sir. As a matter of fact the Russian Government sold last year a great deal more produce in this country than they bought produce of this country, and if the Russian Government wish to use some part of that balance for the purpose of buying British coal or British goods, there is nothing to stop them from doing so.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is it not the case that we are doing a very substantial coal trade with all those countries which belonged to pre-War Russia, but which have now seceded from Russia?


I think that is so. I have not the particulars of the trade here, but undoubtedly the hon. and gallant Member is quite right in saying that trade is going on with the parts which were in pre-War Russia, but are now outside Russia, whereas, owing to circumstances which are within the know- ledge of the House and the competence of the Russian Government, it is not going on with Russia.


Arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's first answer, are we to understand the Government do not intend to encourage the export of coal to Russia or to anywhere else?


The Government are anxious to encourage the export of coal, wherever they can, on sound lines.