I have no reason to suppose that the Germans are not adhering to the list which has been agreed in accordance with the United Nations resolution of 1951 about trade with China.
Mr. H. Wilson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of so-called strategic items which cannot be shipped to China are being shipped to Poland and other East European countries, and that railway and other transport facilities enable them to be shipped straight to China? Does not this fact make a farce of the whole system of special Chinese strategic controls?
We are aware that the embargo lists in the case of Eastern Europe and China are different.
Any relaxation of the controls on exports to China must depend on developments in the Far East. The export of tinplate is already permitted if it is for the packing of food to be shipped to the United Kingdom.
As I have said on several previous occasions, I am always glad to receive any evidence from any hon. Member on this subject. Many allegations are made but very little evidence comes to us.
§ Mr. Swingler
What is done about this evidence? How many cases is it necessary to send to the Board of Trade? I have sent cases, but nothing has been done about them.
Will the hon. Member send the cases straight to me in future? If he will do that I shall consider them personally.
§ The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:
§ 35. Sir L. Plummer
To ask the President of the Board of Trade why the export to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of extruded plastic tubing is prohibited.
§ 37. Sir L. Plummer
To ask the President of the Board of Trade why the export from the United Kingdom to China of acetic acid and acetone is prohibited.
§ 55. Mr. Delargy
To ask the President of the Board of Trade why the export of light industrial motor-trucks to China is prohibited by his Department, but the export of saloon cars permitted.
§ 61. Mr. Harold Davies
To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he will state the principle upon which the export of small fishing craft to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is permitted and to China is prohibited.
§ Mr. Speaker
We can tell whether the answer will or will not cover both Questions only when we hear it.
The answer to these Questions is as follows:
The House is aware that the controls on exports to the U.S.S.R. are at present being reviewed. It would be inopportune to discuss particular items at this stage. In the case of China, our controls are more stringent, because China has been engaged in hostilities against the United Nations forces. The items prohibited for export to China, including those mentioned, could be put to military uses. Any 1961 general relaxation of the China controls must depend upon developments in the Far East.
§ Mr. Wigg
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my Question has nothing whatever to do with the U.S.S.R.? It is about small generators for mobile cinemas, small generators that can be used only for mobile cinemas and nothing else. If the right hon. Gentleman wants it, I can supply him with evidence to that effect from the firm of manufacturers. Will he be kind enough to answer just that Question?
The decision on the embargo of small generators to China was reached as a result of discussions between all the countries concerned. On interpretation of the United Nations resolution, in the opinion of those countries, small generators are of military value.
§ Mr. Erroll
Is it not very interesting that while generators are being ordered no cinema units are being ordered? Does that not throw doubt on the veracity of the orderers?
§ Mr. Wigg
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the firm, which, incidentally, is not far from the constituency of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll), has supplied full technical details to the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Supply, and that his technical advisers have accepted its evidence? If that is so, why is he denying permission to export these things?
I am afraid that there is no question whatever of our unilaterally altering the China list.
§ Mr. Wyatt
Would the right hon. Gentleman now answer Question No. 44, which he has not dealt with in his reply? He has said that as far as China is concerned there are military considerations. Why, then, does he allow the export of generators to Russia? Since he does, will he tell us why he does not allow more to go?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I have given. I have said that discussions are proceeding, and it would be inopportune, in my opinion, to discuss particular items on the list.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
Could the Minister help the House to this extent? My hon. Friend's Question No. 33 refers to small generators for mobile cinema units. There is a dispute about the facts. Could the Minister give an illustration of the military purposes for which these small generators could be used?
I am no engineering expert, but I really should not find it difficult to believe that small generators that can be removed from one equipment and put into another could be items of considerable military value.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Is the Minister aware that while we are refusing permission to export acetone and acetic acid, Western Germany is free to export such goods to China? Is he not further aware that we have no monopoly in the production of plastic materials? What is the reason for including plastic devices in the security list?
The answer to the hon. Gentleman is the same; the countries concerned have found that these items may be of military value.
§ Mr. Hale
Is it not the position that small generators can be exported to the U.S.S.R., and that the Russians, if they want to, can send them to China? If so, is not the whole thing nonsense? Are we really in the position, under a Government who were going to set businessmen free, that to exchange a tintack for an egg we have to consult Washington, Paris, Brussels and Bonn?
§ Mr. Bottomley
Is it possible for the Minister to tell us why the proceedings of the Consultative Committee are continually held up? He has given me an assurance that it is not we who hold them up. Which Government is it?
I think that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are not being suite reasonable about this matter. These discussions are between no fewer than 15 countries, and are about very difficult matters indeed, and I do not think it is surprising that they lasted a little longer than we expected when we started them.
§ 36. Sir L. Plummer
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will circulate to all manufacturers and exporters of plastics, a list of the plastic products whose export to Eastern Europe and to China, respectively, is prohibited.
I am sure that it will be much more useful that intending exporters should inquire of the Board of Trade whether their particular product may be exported.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Is the Minister aware that would-be exporters are getting conflicting advice when applying to the Board of Trade? Would it not be simpler to let every manufacturer know exactly where he stands?
I think I have said before that these inquiries are extremely difficult. No list will cover them completely. The most satisfactory way is to inquire into each case as it comes along and for the manufacturer to tell us exactly the specifications of what he wants to export. Then we can give him an answer. If the hon. Gentleman can give me any information about cases in which conflicting advice has been given, I shall be glad if he will let me have it.
§ 38. Mr. Bing
asked the President of the Board of Trade the total number and value of orders for machine tools whose licensing for export to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is at present under consideration by his Department; and the number and value of those licences which were under consideration on 21st May, 1954, which have since been granted.
At present 150 applications for licences to the value of £26,726,685 are under consideration. Since 21st May, 16 licences have been issued to the value of £464,444. Applications for licences do not necessarily correspond to orders.
§ Mr. Bing
Does the right hon. Gentleman first of all realise that these applications for licences exceed the total in any one year of exports of machine tools to 1964 the whole world, and, secondly, that those orders are now being supplied by Switzerland and Sweden who place no restrictions whatsoever on the export of machine tools to the Soviet Union? Does he not think this nonsense should be stopped?
With regard to the first part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's supplementary Question. I do agree that these are very important orders indeed. We do not want to keep them in suspense one day longer than we need.
As regards the second part, relating to Switzerland and Sweden, I have no specific information of what the hon. and learned Gentleman states.
There is no difference between the list of prohibitions enforced by Her Majesty's Government and that enforced by the Federal German Government.
§ Mr. Bing
But surely the Minister is aware that, if not from the British Zone, at least from the American Zone acetone and acetic acid, for example, are being exported every day to China, and that when the Minister was enforcing the ban on antibiotic drugs to China orders amounting to millions of pounds were fulfilled by Western Germany? I think photostat copies of the correspondence showing those orders were sent to the Board of Trade. Did he not trouble to look at them?
I have no evidence of any difference in treatment of exports from Western Germany as between the British Zone and the American Zone.
§ 40. Mr. Hale
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that polyvinyl-chloride, used for the manufacture of all plastic materials, is being exported from Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia to Western Europe; and whether he will remove the prohibition on British firms exporting this product to Eastern Europe and to China.
Yes, Sir, the Soviet Zone of Germany and Czechoslovakia probably export this commodity to Western Europe. Equally there is no restriction in the United Kingdom on its exports to Eastern Europe. As regards China, there is no present intention of changing existing policy.
§ Mr. Hale
If there are no restrictions on the export of polyvinyl-chloride and its products, can the Minister explain why firms in Norfolk and elsewhere have been writing to his Department for some considerable time to try to get licences and to get information and have not been able to obtain this information? Is he aware that this is perhaps the predominant basic material of most plastic products and a matter of considerable importance?
As for the first part of the question, I was not aware that firms had been unable to obtain information; as for the second part, I agree that this is a basic material for plastics.
§ 41. Mr. Hale
asked the President of the Board of Trade what quotas for the export of diesel generators of 750 kilowatts and above to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have been agreed upon by the Consultative Group Co-ordination Committee for export from the United Kingdom, France, Western Germany and Belgium, respectively.
As the hon. Member knows, it has not been the practice to make public information of this kind. I do not think the present moment a good one to consider a change in this policy.
§ Mr. Hale
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on 5th July he told my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) that these figures had been arrived at by the agreement of the Consultative Group Coordination Committee as between the various nations concerned? Is it a fact that all the other Continental nations can 1966 be told what the allocations are but that we cannot be told, and is there any reason on earth why we should not be told whether this country is being reasonably treated or unfairly treated in these discussions?
I do not think I can add anything to what I have said on this and several other occasions—I cannot think that this is a good moment to change our present policy.