HC Deb 28 January 1954 vol 522 cc1954-6
39. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of recent official statements by the members of the United States Administration, he will now enter into discussions with the Government of the United States of America, and with other Governments involved, with a view to making relaxations in the strategic controls imposed on shipments to Eastern Europe

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

As I have previously stated, Her Majesty's Government believe an expansion of trade with Eastern Europe to be desirable and it is our policy to increase this trade to the maximum consistent with our essential security needs. To that end, we keep in close and regular touch with the other Governments represented on the Consultative Group, including the United States Government.

Mr. Wilson

Since this process of keeping touch never seems to lead to any relaxation, will the President not say whether the Government will now take the initiative, as one contribution to easing world tension, instead of always having to lag behind the United States in this matter?

Mr. Thorneycroft

As a result of our consultations in recent months controls have been lifted on tinplate and certain chemicals to the Soviet bloc, and the embargo on small motor cars and sodium peroxide has been removed.

Mr. E. Fletcher

In view of the present international situation, should not the Government go much further and review the whole question of trade with the East with a view to liberalising it much more? Is there any reason why we should be dependent upon what the U.S.A. wants to do?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have already said that these lists are constantly under examination.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the President aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the course of one of his many Press conferences in the last few weeks, has expressed the opinion that development of East-West trade is of great importance to the Commonwealth and particularly to the colonies of South-East Asia? Does the President intend to follow up the Chancellor's suggestion?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I associate myself fully with anything which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said at any of his Press conferences, and I repeat the assurance that an examination of these lists is constantly going on.

Mr. Harold Davies

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the United Nations' Report on the study of trade between Asia and Europe? Has his Department studied this serious document? If so, has the President read therein of the absolute necessity for the expansion of trade between us and the East? If we do not do it the rest of the world will. How much longer is this humbug to be kept up?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I certainly bear in mind that report, as well as all other relevant documents, in my consideration.