HC Deb 29 July 1952 vol 504 cc1255-6
31. Mr. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade to state what has been the value of orders placed in Great Britain from countries behind the Iron Curtain as a result of the recent Moscow Conference; how much has been exported; and what are the nature of the exports.

Mr. Mackeson

I do not know of any contracts concluded with the Soviet Union or the East European countries in question as a result of the Moscow Conference.

As to China, which my hon. Friend doubtless also has in mind, I understand that contracts have been concluded for the sale of chemicals and wool tops to the value of £270,000 and £500,000, respectively, but that no shipments have yet been made. The goods are mostly of the kind normally imported by China from the United Kingdom and might well have been purchased had there been no Economic Conference at Moscow.

Mr. Osborne

Does this mean that the two totals, amounting to £700,000, disprove the report which was issued immediately after the conference that members brought back contracts to the value of £6 million as the result of the conference?

Mr. Mackeson

As I said in my answer, I have no knowledge of the contracts.

Mr. S. Silverman

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that no one who came back from Moscow said that he had brought back any contracts at all? What they brought back was agreement for trade between those countries and merchants here, which were subject to licence and subject to the ability to sell as well as to buy. Active negotiations are still going on, a great number of contracts have since been made, and there is no reason to doubt that every penny of the orders will be completed within the specified time.

Mr. Mackeson

I can only say that my right hon. Friend himself wrote to the head of the Soviet delegation in London and received no acknowledgment, and there has been no reply to our approaches to Pekin or to other countries such as Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Bulgaria; and I repeat the first part of my answer to the Question.