HC Deb 28 April 1953 vol 514 cc1940-1
18. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the President of the Board of Trade to state the value of Britain's exports to China for the first quarter of this year; and how it compares with the comparable period for 1952.

23. Mr. Hamilton

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the increase in United Kingdom exports to China this year as compared with the same period in 1952; to what causes he attributes this increase; and what steps are contemplated to increase it still further.

Mr. Mackeson

Exports to China in the first quarter of this year amounted to £2¼ million compared with £200,000 in the first quarter of 1952 when they were abnormally low even having regard to the greatly reduced level of our trade with China at the present time. The larger figure this year is the result of large purchases notably of textiles and fertilisers, which were made last summer by the Chinese. While I should be glad to see trade with China expand provided that it is confined to goods which will not assist the Communists in their war against the United Nations forces, it is clear that in present conditions any such expansion depends essentially upon the trade policy of the Chinese Government and that there are no immediate steps which can usefully be taken by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. McGovern

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether this great development in trade was in any way connected with the visit of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)?

Mr. Mackeson

I anticipated that supplementary question. I have been unable to trace any evidence of that.

Mr. S. Silverman

In the interests of the accuracy of the record, will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the orders to which he referred in his principal answer are precisely those which we had the honour and success to negotiate at the International Economic Conference in Moscow a year ago?

Mr. Mackeson

As I said, while I have taken considerable trouble over this, I cannot substantiate that statement. [Interruption.]

Mr. Ian Harvey

On a point of order. Is it in order, Mr. Speaker, for an hon. Member to call the Minister an ass?

Mr. Speaker

I did not hear that expression.