HC Deb 01 December 1953 vol 521 cc935-8
21 and 22. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will now grant licences for the export of small generating sets to China;

(2) if he will now grant licences for the export of steel tubes and telephone cables to China.

Mr. Amory

The export to China of steel tubes, telephone cable and generating sets of all sizes is prohibited in all the countries which are members of the Strategic Controls Consultative Group, and we are therefore not in a position to license this trade.

Mr. Swingler

Is the Minister aware that his assertion is quite untrue? Does he not know that telephone cables are being exported from Belgium, that steel tubes are being exported from Germany, and will he also say in what way small generating sets are considered more strategic than the motor cars on which the embargo has been lifted?

Mr. Amory

As regards the first part of the Question, all the members of the Consultative Group are in line on this matter, and all the items I have mentioned are prohibited by agreement, so that if what the hon. Gentleman says is so, I shall be grateful if he will let me have information on those specific points. As to whether small generating sets are more strategic than motor cars, I can only say that in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government and the other members of the Consultative Group, they are.

24. Mr. de Freitas

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many motor vehicles have been exported to China in each of the last three years.

Mr. Amory

Exports of motor vehicles from this country to China in the last three years have been negligible. There were two in each of the years 1950 and 1951, one in 1952, and none this year up to the end of October.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Minister aware that recent visitors to Peking report that it is as full of new American cars as Grosvenor Square? Is he further aware that what is good for General Motors is good for this country? What is he going to do to overtake the American lead which Senator McCarthy has established in this export?

Mr. Amory

We have been making inquiries into this point, but there is no evidence at present to show that the embargo is not being adhered to by the other members of the Group.

Mr. de Freitas

Is it not a fact that, through Japan, these cars are being exported from the United States and straight on into China?

Mr. Amory

We have no evidence of that at present. If the hon. Gentleman has, I should be glad if he would let me have it.

Mr. Robson Brown

Is the Minister aware that there is a strong feeling in this country, whatever the Ministry may feel, that considerable tonnages of this kind of material are going into China from the U.S.A. at this time, and, while there are strong representations and attacks on this country from the United States of America in this respect, will my right hon. Friend take steps to check this matter and bring the evidence before the House?

Mr. Amory

I have already said that we are endeavouring to make inquiries, but my hon. Friend will realise that we can only act on specific evidence. That is why I am anxious that if any hon. Member has any, he will let me have it.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the Government propose to the United States Government that Senator McCarthy might inquire into General Motors?

Mr. Mikardo

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Chinese have been able to buy large quantities of motor cars and steel tubes and generating sets and other things in many parts of the world by paying for them with the several hundred millions of dollars which they have got through exports to the United States over the last three years?

Mr. Amory

I am not aware of that on present evidence.

Mr. Gaitskell

In view of these allegations, will the Minister call for a report from our representative in Peking?

Mr. Amory

As I said, inquiries are being made. We have had already an interim report and are expecting a further report from our representative in Peking.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

Are we to understand from the Minister's reply that no one in the Board of Trade up to the present knows anything at all about these series of imports through the back door, from America via Japan into China?

Mr. Amory

I think that I have already made it clear that we can only act on definite evidence, and definite evidence is lacking on the allegations made.

Mr. de Freitas

I beg to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I shall take the opportunity of raising this matter on the Adjournment.

37. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications for licences have been received for orders from China for British motor cars; and how many licences have been issued.

Mr. Amory

One formal application has been made this year, which was approved.

Mr. Hughes

Can the Minister say whether we have now the enthusiastic co-operation of the Government in promoting the sale of motor cars to China?

Mr. Amory

Small cars can now be exported to China and we should like to see that trade in small cars increased.

Mr. Wyatt

Is it not a fact that Austins have a contract with China for £1,500,000 worth of motor vehicles which are awaiting licences from the Board of Trade? Could not the Minister say something about that?

Mr. Amory

The question which I was asked was what applications we have had, and the only definite application we have had is the one to which I have referred.