HC Deb 19 October 1944 vol 403 cc2537-9
70. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department on what date it is proposed to issue the reports dealing with the general prospects for United Kingdom goods in particular markets and the opportunities for particular export industries in all the more important markets.

Mr. Johnstone

The reports dealing with the general prospects for United Kingdom goods in particular markets are under continuous revision so that when the time for issue arrives they will be as up-to-date as possible. For this reason they cannot usefully be issued before the end of the European war. Because of their confidential nature reports on opportunities for particular export industries will not be made public. Preliminary reports have already been communicated to many industries who have been invited to discuss with my Department what additional information they would wish to be obtained from overseas officers.

71. Mr. Hogg

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what steps have been taken to get into touch with individual exporters in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Johnstone

Discussions have taken place during the last 15 months between my Department and the executive committees of about 140 export groups and trade organisations on problems connected with the re-starting of export trade. These discussions have normally been reported by the groups to the individual members of their organisations, with the result that many such firms have raised specific inquiries. In addition, the Department has been in touch, by correspondence and by interview, with a very large number of individual exporting firms on their particular problems.

76. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are being, or have been, taken with the Allied Governments now in London to restore and promote British trade with their respective countries.

Mr. Johnstone

As my hon. Friend is aware, special arrangements have been made for relief and first-aid rehabilitation in liberated territories in the period immediately following their liberation. The procedure to be followed to enable Allied Governments to re-establish their economy is being discussed with the Governments mainly interested, but any precise formulation of what a liberated territory requires or can furnish must await the return of the Government concerned to its capital.

Mr. Hogg

Does that mean that the Government have not taken any advantage whatever of the presence of Allied Governments in this country to try to promote our export trade with those countries?

Mr. Johnstone

Oh, no. Preliminary discussions, covering a wide ground, have taken place with Allied Governments. But, as I said, nothing definite can be settled until those Governments have returned to their capitals, and are able to give more precise information about their requirements in imports and exports.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is there any truth in the allegation that the exporting firms in this country have been refused permission by the Foreign Office to carry on negotiations with the representatives of Allied Governments in London, on the ground that the whole question is to be the subject of a conference with the United States of America?

Mr. Johnstone

No, Sir.

Mr. A. Edwards

Have the negotiations from the American side got beyond preliminary discussions?

Mr. Johnstone

My right hon. Friend indicated on a previous occasion that he would make a statement in the House when it was possible to say more than he was then able to say. That time has not yet arrived.

Mr. Bellenger

Is my right hon. Friend aware that tangible negotiations have taken place between Allied Governments here; and why should not similar negotiations, leading to the same satisfactory results, take place between Allied Governments and exporters in this country?

Mr. Johnstone

They have taken place; but they cannot be discussed in any way until the Governments concerned are aware of their own needs and also of what they can export.