HC Deb 15 February 1951 vol 484 cc599-600
28. Mr. Fitzroy Maclean

asked the President of the Board of Trade how much rubber was exported to Communist China from Malaya in November last; how much in December and how much in January; and how much rubber has been shipped from the United Kingdom to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in British ships during the same periods.

Mr. H. Wilson

Exports of rubber from Malaya to China were 9,302 tons in November last and 7,180 tons in December. There were no exports or transhipments of rubber in British ships from the United Kingdom to Russia in November and December. Figures for January are not yet available.

Mr. Maclean

Is it not a fact that a ship with a cargo of 9,000 tons of rubber, worth £3 million, is now on its way to the Soviet Union?

Mr. Wilson

I am not sure where the hon. Member suggests the ship has sailed from. If it is suggested that it is from this country, I should like particulars.

Mr. John Hynd

How much profit has been made out of these contracts by private traders?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Is it not about time that this matter was cleared up and that unfounded accusations should be cleared up in the House? Have the Government themselves now stopped shipping rubber to Russia and to China? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the vast majority of rubber growers continue this trade solely to keep open the channels of trade and that most of them would welcome a Government ban on trade which they regard with the utmost disquiet?

Mr. Wilson

It would not be possible in question and answer to reply to all the points which the hon. Member has raised, but certainly our policy regarding rubber shipments from this country is as stated, and as was agreed, I think, by the Opposition Front Bench, in September last. We are keeping watch on the situation, and if there were to be any undue and large movements of rubber we should naturally have to consider the position.

Mr. W. Fletcher

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the shipment of the last tonnage of rubber sold by His Majesty's Government to China was made?

Mr. Wilson

Not without notice.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

What advantage is expected to be derived by this process of denying to a large part of the world's population access to raw materials which they cannot produce?

Mr. Wilson

I should think that my hon. Friend would realise what is the policy of His Majesty's Government and other Governments in the matter of the control of shipments of goods of direct strategic value. As I have made clear in the House before, that control has not been extended to rubber.

Mr. Henry Hopkinson

Is the Conference on rubber, which is now sitting in London, considering the limitation, or even the prohibition, of the export to China of rubber which is being used for weapons of war against our troops in Korea?

Mr. Wilson

I do not know what the Conference might consider before its deliberations are over, but it would not be appropriate for me to make a comment at this stage.

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