HC Deb 04 March 1952 vol 497 cc204-5
47. Mr. William Shepherd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of sterling that has accrued to Japan mainly from the sale of cotton goods to Pakistan; how far steps have been taken to reduce this liability; whether he is aware that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is seeking to obtain this sterling by sales to Japan; and to what extent his arrangements will enable it to be freely available for Soviet use.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I regret that I am not in a position to give the figures asked for in the first part of my hon. Friend's Question. Under the Anglo-Japanese Sterling Payments Agreement of 31st August, 1951, and the Exchange of Notes annexed thereto, Japan may use her sterling earnings for payments to the sterling area and also, in respect of direct current transactions, for payments to countries in the "Transferable Account Area," in which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is included. I am aware of reports that U.S.S.R. is willing to sell certain goods to Japan for sterling under these arrangements.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the sterling balances have accrued because Japan has displaced this country as the principal supplier of cotton goods to Pakistan? Could he persuade the President of the Board of Trade to announce the Government's policy in respect of Japanese competition?

Mr. Butler

I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman puts a Question to the President of the Board of Trade he will get a very satisfactory answer.

Mr. A. G. Bottomley

Is it not desirable that we should encourage the Soviet Union to earn sterling?

Mr. Butler

I must remind hon. Members that there is a certain trade in essentials between us and the Soviet Union and that we must expect the Soviet Union to use the sterling in some way or another.