HC Deb 02 April 1953 vol 513 cc1337-8
3. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Undersecretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what representations he has made to the Government of Ceylon about the recent barter deal with China, in which rubber is exchanged for rice; and what was the reason for, and the result of, such representations.

Mr. J. Foster

Since the shortage of rice in Ceylon became acute, and particularly since the possibility arose of Ceylon obtaining rice from China in return for rubber, informal exchanges of view have taken place with the Government of Ceylon. The United Kingdom Government have at no time made any formal representations to the Government of Ceylon on this subject, and have appreciated Ceylon's urgent need for rice in order to protect her standard of living. Whilst it is not customary to give particulars of representations made by the United Kingdom Government to Commonwealth Governments, I can assure the House that the United Kingdom Government did express their concern, before the agreements were signed, at the conclusion of agreements involving the supply of rubber on a large scale to China.

Mr. Wilson

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that these representations, no doubt made under American pressure, are going entirely in the wrong direction at the present time, and that the Government ought to be seeking every possible means of expanding East-West trade instead of expressing their concern about the extension of it? In view of the severe need for rice in the sterling area, will the Government inform Ceylon that this country at least is very happy about what has taken place?

Mr. Foster

I see no reason to make any further communications to Ceylon on this matter. The representations were not made under American pressure.

Mr. Snow

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we seem to be getting an impression in this country that the United States are not up to date about the structure of the Commonwealth? They hold us responsible for actions taken on an autonomous basis by self-governing Dominions.

Mr. Foster

It is difficult for me to answer hon. Members who sometimes have misapprehensions about the Commonwealth themselves. I cannot say anything about the apprehensions or otherwise of the United States Government.

Mr. Harold Davies

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman make available in the Library, for the information of hon. Members, the report which is expected to be given every 30 days at the request of the Additional Measures Committee of the United Nations as a result of the resolution of 18th May, 1951, under which we are expected to report what embargoes we have imposed? No hon. Member of this House knows whether Her Majesty's Government make that report every 30 days or, if they make it, what commodities are mentioned in it.

Mr. Foster

That Question should be addressed to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.