HC Deb 21 June 1938 vol 337 cc877-8
26. Captain Ramsay

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that whereas British liner services to Russia, until fairly recently, carried nearly all of United Kingdom manufactured exports to Russia, the whole of this is now being carried by Russian vessels; whether this is in accordance with the trade agreement between the two countries; and, if not, what steps he proposes to take in the matter?

Mr. Stanley

According to my information, British liner services, which carried the bulk of British manufactured exports to Russia before the War, have not been running to Russian ports for the past 12 years. In 1936, some 80 per cent. of the United Kingdom manufactured goods exported to Russia was carried in Soviet vessels, but this is not in itself out of accord with the provisions of the Anglo Soviet Trade Agreement. As regards the last part of the question, I am not at present able to add to the statement which I made in the Debate on the Board of Trade Vote on 15th June on the subject of trade between this country and the Soviet Union.

Mr. Thurtle

On a point of Order. Ought not the hon. and gallant Member for Franco—I beg his pardon, the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles (Captain Ramsay)—to have made sure of his facts before he put this question down?

27. Captain Ramsay

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that British ships now carry only 9.2 per cent. of United Kingdom imports of Russian timber, the balance being carried as to 33.6 per cent. in Russian ships and the remaining 57 per cent. by other flags chartered at cut rates by the Russian Government; and whether he will take steps to put a stop to this state of affairs?

Mr. Stanley

I am aware that, in 1936, British ships carried 9.2 per cent. of the Russian timber imported into this country, and that Russian and other foreign ships carried 33.6 per cent. and 57 per cent. respectively of such imports. As to the second part of the question, I can add nothing to the answer I have already given to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Captain Ramsay

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this chartering of ships at cut rates amounts to a serious attack on the standard of living of our seamen?

Mr. Stanley

Yes, Sir. Not only on this aspect of Russian trade, but on others as well, I have already expressed, both in answer to questions and during debate, the dissatisfaction we feel with the results of the Russian Trade Agreement.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Can my right hon. Friend indicate why it should be a matter for satisfaction to the party opposite that British shipping is not employed in this trade?

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is so desirous of bettering relations and trade with Russia, will he do his very utmost in that direction?

Mr. Stanley

Russia can do a great deal to help us by buying goods manufactured in this country instead of simply filling their quota under the agreement by buying re-exports, which give very little employment to our people.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Will my right hon. Friend do his best to encourage the use of British ships wherever possible?