HC Deb 08 December 1953 vol 521 cc1782-3
13. Sir H. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade, having regard to the fact that our imports from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania combined, are approximately two-and-a-half times as great as our exports and re-exports to that group of countries, what steps he is taking to remedy this adverse balance of payments.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

It would not be wise to attempt to achieve an exact balance in our visible trade with any given group of countries. There is in fact an approximate balance in the payments between these countries and the sterling areaa. It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to encourage the export of non-strategic goods to the U.S.S.R.

Sir H. Williams

Having regard to the fact that re-exports coupled with exports total only 40 per cent. of what we have imported, could my right hon. Friend supply a little more detailed information?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I will give my hon. Friend any information he desires if he will put down a Question or if he wishes to see me, but the fact is that on a payments basis there is a rough balance between the two.

Mr. Bottomley

Is not the shortage of sterling on the part of the U.S.S.R. one of the causes why we cannot export as much, and ought we not to consider buying timber and grain from that country?

Sir R. Boothby

Will my right hon. Friend give consideration to including trawlers amongst non-strategic exports?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Consideration is given constantly to the scope of our strategic controls.