HC Deb 14 June 1951 vol 488 cc2483-4
5. Mr. Oakshott

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects that conversations will be begun with Sweden regarding a new trade agreement.

Sir H. Shawcross

Before the end of the year, Sir.

Mr. Oakshott

Is it not a fact that the present position of trade between the two countries is being badly thrown out of balance by the shortage of deliveries from the United Kingdom, especially of coal? Is the Minister aware that the Swedish Government have recently cancelled the issue of any further export licences for softwoods to the United Kingdom because of this unbalance? Is it not rather urgent that these conversations should take place?

Sir H. Shawcross

We have the whole position of this agreement in mind. The Swedish Government have maintained their deliveries of timber, pulp, and iron ore at the figures agreed.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Is it not a fact that at present difficulties about granting export licences for timber already contracted for are arising and that orders are being issued that no further contracts will be entered into by Swedish exporters except subject to the issue of an export licence by the Swedish Government? In view of the comparative shortness of the season for bringing timber into this country, does not this indicate the necessity for doing something fairly soon?

Sir H. Shawcross

No; we have no reason to think that the arrangements that will be made between us and the Swedes between now and the end of the year will seriously affect our interests in these matters. Our difficulties regarding exports of certain raw materials are well understood.

Mr. Arthur Colegate

Is not the main difficulty in all these trade agreements our failure to export coal, and will the Minister not impress afresh on his colleagues the necessity of re-organising the Coal Board and putting it on a better basis?