HC Deb 15 November 1938 vol 341 cc660-1
17. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that Great Britain purchased from Soviet Russia, in 1937, nearly three times as much in value as Soviet Russia purchased from Great Britain, while both Germany and the United States of America had a considerable favourable trade balance with the Soviet Republic; and whether he will take steps to improve the position of British trade?

Mr. Stanley

I am aware of the figures which the hon. and gallant Member has in mind. The trade relations between this country and the Soviet Union have been under discussion with various interests, and I recently received an important deputation from the trading interests concerned which laid before me information which will enable the Government to consider the whole matter fully.

Sir A. Knox

Is it not the fact that the last Trade Agreement with Russia has proved absolutely futile; and would it not he better to denounce that Agreement, and, if you make another agreement, to arrange that Russia should spend a minimum sum every year on British manufactures, which should be conveyed in British ships?

Mr. Stanley

I certainly would not agree that the last Agreement has been futile, but I certainly would not dissent from the view that it has been very disappointing, and that it would have been quite possible for the Soviet Government, within the terms of that Agreement, to have bought a very much larger proportion of goods actually manufactured in this country rather than a large amount of re-exports.

Sir A. Knox

Will my right hon. Friend consider giving notice of the termination of this Agreement?

Mr. Thorne

Is it not a fact that the people of this country will do more trade with Russia when they have more common sense?

Mr. Stanley

They would do a great deal more trade with Russia if the Russian Government would give them the opportunity.

Mr. Burke

Is it not a fact that of the 21 trade agreements that we have with other countries, only in the case of three, France, Turkey and Iceland, is there a balance in favour of this country?

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