§ 58. Mr. JOHNSTON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Russia's purchases in Great Britain increased from £2,809,541 in the year 1920 to £31,170,995 in the year 1925; whether Great Britain's trade with any other foreign country can show the same proportional increase during the years mentioned; and whether, under these circumstances, the Government will take all the measures within its powers to foster and encourage this trade?
I am unable to express an opinion as to the accuracy of 1602 the figures quoted by the hon. Member, which are taken, I gather, from an article in the "Soviet Union Monthly." It is there stated that the figures include purchases in other countries of goods to be shipped to Russia without touching at ports in the United Kingdom. As the figures do not relate solely to British exports, no comparison can be made between them and our trade with other countries.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Is the hon. Member not aware that these figures have been endorsed by the Anglo-Russian Chamber of Commerce, of which a colleague of his was a leading member until he joined the Government?
If the hon. Member will permit me to say so without offence, I think he has created a trap for himself and fallen into it. He makes use of the word "purchase." Purchases can be made by the Russian representatives in London of large amounts of, say, Brazilian goods which might be sent straight from Rio de Janeiro to Russia, but they would not constitute an export from this country of British goods or a re-export of British goods. The hon. Member's figures may well be correct, without constituting any export from this country of British goods or a re-export of British goods. They may refer to business which would not have anything to do with this country.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Can the hon. Gentleman say what proportion of these figures represent British and Empire purchases?
Yes, Sir; if the hon. Gentleman will wait just a moment until I answer another question on this subject down on the Paper, my reply will give him those figures.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
As these figures have been endorsed and supplied by the Anglo-Russian Chamber of Commerce, is he prepared to withdraw his allegation that my figures were taken from the Soviet Union Review?
I did not deny the correctness of the hon. Member's figures. They may well be correct, wherever they may come from, but I do not think they are a reliable index of the value of exports by Britain to Russia.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
Is not the remarkable growth of trade mentioned in the question a strong reason why the Government should not interfere? If there is genuine trade to be done, will it not be done quite apart from the Government?
§ 59. Mr. JOHNSTON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Russian purchases in Great Britain from the years 1920 to 1925, inclusive, reached the sum total of £70,154,378, and that during the same years, Russian sales on the British market reached the total sum of £64,609,071; that the Russian trading organisations in Germany have concluded an agreement with the German Government and German banking and industrial houses for a credit of £15,000,000 to increase the development of German-Russian trade; and whether, under the circumstances, His Majesty's Government will extend immediately the Trade Facilities Acts to British-Russian trade?
As regards the figures quoted in the first part of the question, I may refer the hon. Member to the reply which I have given to his previous question. With regard to the second and third parts of the question, I would refer him to the reply which I have just given to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
If it is the case that those, figures are approximately right, and that there is a growing export trade from this country to Russia, will the hon. Member use his influence with prominent colleagues of his own to prevent them from crabbing that trade?
§ 60. Sir A. KNOX
asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the total value of exports to the Soviet Republic of British manufactured goods and pro- 1604 ducts for the years 1920 to 1925 inclusive; similarly, of re-exports from Great Britain to the Soviet Republic for the same years; of the total imports in those years from Soviet Russia; and what is the balance in favour of the Soviet of unexpended credit in respect of such Anglo-Russian trade?
It is difficult to give figures for 1920 comparable with those for later years, owing to alterations of frontiers; but the excess of imports over exports, and re-exports, of merchandise in our trade with Soviet Russia, as declared for the three years 1921–23 was, roughly, £7,500,000, and for the two years 1924–25, roughly, £14,500,000. An allowance must be made for invisible imports and exports, as to the amount of which we have no exact information. I will, with permission, circulate the figures in detail in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Yes. Roughly, the trade balance in favour of Russia for the last two years would be £14,500,000 sterling.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
Is not that a direct contradiction of the statement made in this House by the hon. Member himself?
No. I repeat figures now within half a million of what I said in the House the other day.
§ Commander O. LOCKER-LAMPSON
May I ask whether some of the exports from Russia are not highly invisible?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Seeing that the hon. Gentleman has given us the exports for last year to Russia, will he tell us what are the re-exports of British and Dominion goods from this country to Russia?
|The VALUE of our IMPORTS consigned from and EXPORTS and RE-EXPORTS consigned to RUSSIA during the years 1920–25 inclusive, are shown in the following TABLE.|
|Year.||Total Imports.||Exports of United Kingdom Produce and Manufactures.||Exports of Imported Merchandise.||Total Exports.||Excess of Imports.|
|* Excess of Exports.|
|Note.—The figures for 1920 relate to trade with Russia and the territories now forming separate states but formerly forming part of Russia. The figures for 1921–25 relate to Soviet Russia.|