HC Deb 25 May 1954 vol 528 cc201-2
34. Mr. Sorensen

asked the President of the Board of Trade the nature and value of the contracts during the past 12 months between the Soviet Government and British firms; and the corresponding value of such contracts in the previous 12 months.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Firms are not required to report to me all the contracts they receive. But, on the basis of such information as I have, I would estimate that during the last 12 months the Soviet Government must have placed contracts for about £40 million. I regret that I cannot make a corresponding estimate for the previous 12 months.

Mr. Sorensen

Why has the right hon. Gentleman not got the figures for the previous 12 months? In any case, will he not agree that this trade is a very encouraging factor, and that these orders do not include any war material; and, particularly for the benefit of the Americans, will he make that clear?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have not got the figures for the previous 12 months because no industrialist is under an obligation to report to me any contract that he may have made. All this £40 million is, of course, outside security control.

Mr. Fernyhough

Is the Minister aware that, in the shipbuilding industry, a great many workers are concerned about the attitude of the Government in regard to orders from the Soviet Union? Is he aware that there is great concern among shipyard workers in his own constituency, who are very perturbed about a £4 million contract which their employer obtained recently, but was refused the necessary licence? Will the right hon. Gentleman look into that?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Shipyards, like other branches of industry, are well aware of the policy of the Government in this respect, and of the efforts which we are making to reduce the area of security control.