HC Deb 28 June 1944 vol 401 cc699-700
6. Mr. de Rothschild

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any diplomatic representative of Great Britain attended the official opening of the International Samples Fair recently held at Barcelona; how many British firms exhibited there; what commodities were exhibited by them; and how British representation at this fair compared with that of the United States, neutral and enemy countries.

Mr. Eden

His Majesty's Government were represented by Mr. Consul Vibert, who was at that time in charge of His Majesty's Consulate General. No British firms exhibited at the Fair. The only foreign countries which participated were the United States of America, Sweden, Switzerland and Chile.

Mr. de Rothschild

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform us why no British firm was there? Does he realise that the United States Ambassador went there in state and was at the opening of this fair? Does it not look uncommonly as if Uncle Sam had slipped a fast one over the simpler Sam?

Mr. Eden

I will leave my hon. Friend to draw his own conclusions, but I can tell him that this matter was considered by the Department concerned, and in view of the total absorption of British industry in matters connected with the war, we did not think we could usefully participate in this affair at this time.

Mr. Molson

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise the importance of preserving our goodwill with a view to exporting after the war?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, I do. That is precisely why we examined this question with a desire to do something about it——

Mr. Stokes

And did nothing.

Mr. Eden

—and we concluded—with, I hope, the hon. Gentleman's endorsement —that the war must come first.

Mr. A. Edwards

Does the right hon. Gentleman not notice the immense sums of money spent by firms in this country on preserving goodwill?

Mr. Eden

I do not underrate at all the importance of goodwill and, wherever we can, we take action. In this particular instance we felt, on balance, unable to do it, but I would not like the House to think this matter was not considered.