HC Deb 05 April 1938 vol 334 cc171-2
19. Sir William Davison

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that apart from re-exports, many of which are of foreign origin, the Soviet Government purchased only approximately £3,000,000 worth of goods and commodities produced in Great Britain during the past year, as compared with imports from Russia into Great Britain of over £29,000,000; and whether in these circumstances steps will at once be taken to negotiate a permanent treaty for trade with Russia on a reciprocal basis in which provision can also be made in regard to the long-standing claims of British nationals?

Mr. Stanley

I cannot at present add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for East Bradford (Mr. Hepworth) on 8th February.

Sir W. Davison

Does my right hon. Friend recognise the very unsatisfactory position that the Soviet Government are purchasing only about one-tenth of the goods that we purchase from them? Is it not high time that something was done in the way of a permanent agreement, especially having regard to the pledges which were made to British creditors that their claims would be dealt with under such a permanent agreement?

Mr. Stanley

The question of creditors is rather remote from this question, but I certainly do not regard the figures stated in the question as at all satisfactory. I am receiving a deputation shortly, but, as the House will realise, it is not just a question of doing something; it is a question of doing something which is effective and helpful.

Mr. G. Strauss

Does not a somewhat similar adverse figure apply between this country and the United States of America, and is not the Soviet Government faithfully carrying out the bargain?

Mr. Stanley

The Soviet Government are carrying out the letter of the bargain. They are carrying it out by means almost entirely of re-exports, which is the manner least helpful to the workpeople of this country. When the hon. Gentleman compares it with the United States of America I would remind him that in any comparison of that kind we must take into account the trade of the United States with our Colonial Empire as well as with this country.

Mr. Thorne

Are not the adverse balances with some other countries greater than with the Soviet Government?

Forward to