HC Deb 06 November 1934 vol 293 cc809-10

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will inform the House as to the total imports into Great Britain from Russia since the signing of the recent trade agreement and the total exports from Great Britain to Russia during the same period, excluding re-exports not manufactured in Great Britain; and whether the proportions of 1.7 to 1 of exports from Russia to Great Britain and from Great Britain to Russia, respectively, as fixed in the said trade agreement, have been maintained?


The Anglo-Russian temporary commercial agreement was signed on 17th February and the only figures available for the period that has since elapsed are those for March to September. During that period the value of imports from Russia was £10,021,000, and the value of the exports of United Kingdom produce and manufactures to that country was £2,277,000. The agreement does not provide that the proportion of our imports from Russia to our exports to Russia shall be in the stated ratios, but that the balance of payments between the two countries, calculated in accordance with the schedule to the agreement, shall be in those ratios.


Was not the House of Commons given to understand before the approval of the trade agreement that there would be a substantial increase in the purchase of manufactured goods by Russia; and does it not appear from the figures which my right hon. Friend has given that only some £2,500,000 worth of manufactured goods have been purchased by Russia since the signing of the agreement as against £10,000,000 worth which we have purchased from Russia? Is not that very unsatisfactory?


Is it not the case that during the year Russia has placed orders for many millions of pounds worth of manufactured goods which have not been delivered, and is not that consistent with the statements made when the agreement was signed?


The statement made at the time did hold out the hope and prospect to the House that there would be an increase of exports to Russia. I trust that hope is not going to be belied by the facts, and I have no reason to believe that it will be. We have already received information as to many large orders having been placed in this country which will come into the figures for 1934 as a whole. May I add that we have to take into calculation here not only the actual exports from this country, but the payments made by Russia for services rendered to that country, as, for instance, in shipping and insurance, which make a material difference.


Will not Russia have to restrict her imports to this country if she has to pay money to Lena Goldfields?