HC Deb 06 February 1951 vol 483 cc1525-6
45. Mr. Gammans

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement or issue a White Paper explaining the Government's policy regarding the export of strategic materials such as rubber, tin, etc., from the Colonial Empire and of semi-manufactured goods from this country; to what extent China is treated differently from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the satellite countries of Eastern Europe; and what representations he has had from the United States of America in this matter.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

It is the general policy of His Majesty's Government to watch and in appropriate cases to control the export of all strategic goods and materials in order to safeguard our own requirements and to help limit the flow of supplies to undesirable destinations. There is a system of export licensing controls for this purpose in this country and in the Far Eastern Colonies. China is treated on the same basis as the Soviet Union and the East European satellites. Our policy is determined in the light of discussions with the United States and other friendly Governments.

Mr. Gammans

In view of the fact that we are having a defence debate next week, is it not essential that we should know if there are any serious differences of opinion between ourselves and the United States; secondly, does the Prime Minister realise that we were told in this House last week that the export of rubber to China was five times what it was a year ago?

The Prime Minister

I do not think it should be suggested that there are differences unless the hon. Member is prepared to bring forward evidence. We are in full discussion always on these matters. As regards rubber, I understand there is not a great amount going—not much beyond the ordinary demands of that country.

Mr. Rankin

Is the Prime Minister aware that the increase of millionaires in Malaya is keeping pace with the increase in the exports of rubber, and what steps is he taking to control that by-product?

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft

Surely the right hon. Gentleman himself is the only person who can say what differences there are between us and the United States on this matter? Has he been supplied with the list of strategic raw materials upon which the United States put a complete embargo, and could he say how far our policy differs from that list?

The Prime Minister

We had a full discussion on these matters. The exact details of these lists are changing from time to time. We are in close contact all the time.

Mr. Edelman

Is it not the case that both the rubber and tin markets are free markets, and could not the private sellers stop the sale of strategic materials to Russia and her satellites whenever they wanted?

Mr. Somerset de Chair

Further to the answer given by the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend, is he aware that 68,000 tons of rubber went to Russia last year and 44,000 tons to Hong Kong, the bulk of which must have gone to China, and does not he think that ought to be taken into consideration?

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