HC Deb 31 May 1951 vol 488 cc398-9
30. Mr. Baker White

asked the President of the Board of Trade what quantities of mining machinery have been sent and will be sent to Czechoslovakia and other East European States under existing commercial agreements.

Sir H. Shawcross

As the answer contains a number of figures I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. We have no commitments to supply mining machinery under any trade agreement with countries in Eastern Europe. Export is not permitted of any type to which there is objection on security grounds or on grounds of essential home needs.

Following are the figures:

Sir H. Shawcross

The decline in 1950 in the Commonwealth share of United Kingdom trade was mainly due to the recovery, from its low post-war level, of our trade with Western Europe. The marked increase in the sterling value of our exports to the United States of America, and reduced imports of grain from Canada, also contributed. The Commonwealth share of both imports and exports in 1950 was, however, larger than in any year from 1930–38.

As regards the second part of the Question, in the first four months of this year the proportion of United Kingdom imports coming from the Commonwealth has increased, but the proportion of United Kingdom exports going to Commonwealth countries was slightly lower than in 1950. Shipping difficulties have, however, held up exports to certain Commonwealth countries and seasonal factors may influence trade figures for periods of less than a year.

Mr. Fisher

While glad that this trend has to some extent been corrected, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he will assure the House that it is his policy to defend the implementation of, and indeed to increase, a system of strong Imperial Preference?

Sir H. Shawcross

His Majesty's Government certainly continue to regard Imperial Preference as of great importance in their policy of maximising trade with the Commonwealth. I certainly desire in all ways to increase trade with different parts of the Commonwealth and Empire.