HC Deb 24 February 1947 vol 433 cc1699-700
106. Mr. W. Fletcher

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps have been taken to ensure that purchases of Japanese goods made by the British Government can be inspected by British firms.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Belcher)

It is not possible at present for British firms to inspect British Government purchases in Japan before shipment since no foreign traders have been allowed to enter Japan since the surrender. The Board of Trade, to whom British Government purchases from Japan are consigned, will appoint British firms to inspect the goods on arrival where necessary.

Mr. Fletcher

Is it not a fact that in the case of recent silk purchases a Swiss firm inspected British Government purchases? Will the Minister press for a British representative to be allowed into the country to see that British contracts are carried out properly?

Mr. Belcher

Yes, Sir, we are pressing for British firms to be allowed into Japan. The reason for the Swiss firm inspecting the purchases is that they have been there throughout the war, and we thought it was better to use their services than to rely on Japanese inspections.

Mr. Stanley Prescott

What is the position in regard to American firms? Are they similarly placed?

Mr. Belcher

That is an entirely different question, but if the hon. Member will put down a Question, I will try to answer it.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Did not the Parliamentary Secretary say that no foreigners have been allowed into Japan, and if so, are not citizens of the. United States foreigners?

Mr. Paton

Are not Americans included as foreign traders?

Mr. Belcher

I take it that the Americans are included with ourselves and other foreigners in the answer I have given the hon. Member, but if a specific Question is put down on the point, I will endeavour to get the information.

Sir Jocelyn Lucas

Who is preventing British firms from going into Japan?