HC Deb 25 May 1954 vol 528 cc200-1
33. Mr. George Craddock

asked the President of the Board of Trade if agreement has been reached yet with the United States of America and France on the criteria against which lists of strategic goods should be re-evaluated to permit a greater volume of East-West trade; and if he is now in a position to give the operative date for the change.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

As I informed the House on 31st March, agreement was reached at the London conference between ourselves, the United States and France as to the basis on which existing controls upon East-West trade should be reviewed.

As regards the second part of the Question, we and the other countries which maintain security controls on East-West trade have now made considerable progress in reviewing the present control lists. Agreement has been reached on a number of changes, but Her Majesty's Government have not so far persuaded all the other Governments concerned that it would be wise to remove particular items from the prohibited list in advance of others. Discussions are proceeding and it remains our policy to move towards a substantial reduction of these strategic controls as rapidly as possible.

Mr. Craddock

May I ask the Minister if he will impress upon the American, French and our own representatives that speed is essential in this matter; and does he not agree that the use of fewer words and more action is essential?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am impressed with the need for pressing on with this difficult and complex matter as rapidly as we can in the circumstances.

Mr. P. Williams

Can my right hon. Friend clear up the position of commercial shipyards and the obtaining of orders for ships?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Not in answer to this Question.