HC Deb 27 May 1954 vol 528 cc599-600
30. Mr. P. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade to make a further statement on the policy of the Government on the obtaining of orders from the Soviet Government for new ships.

Mr. Amory

It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to approve the export of ships to the U.S.S.R. subject to the requirements of security. In so far as orders may be affected by strategic controls, I am not in a position to add anything to the answer given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock) on 25th May.

Mr. Williams

Can my right hon. Friend make it clear whether or not the Government expect shipbuilders to seek orders from the Russian Government, because there seems to be a considerable amount of misunderstanding about this?

Mr. Amory

I think that the point is covered by the first part of my answer. So far as the present position goes, if any tenderer, or anyone thinking of tendering, will communicate with my Department we will give such information as possible about the existing situation.

Mr. Fernyhough

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that practically every other N.A.T.O. Power has for some time been building ships for the Soviets, and is it not strange that a shipbuilder from Britain who recently returned with orders valued at £5 million was refused the necessary export licence by the right hon. Gentleman's Department?

Mr. Amory

I am not sure of the particular order to which the hon. Member refers. Certainly one substantial inquiry has been received, but at present, on the information we have there are difficulties on strategic grounds.

Mr. Drayson

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that no ships will be supplied from Danish, German or other European yards which cannot be supplied from yards in Great Britain?

Mr. Amory

I have no reason to suppose that the other member nations co-operating with us in the discussions at present taking place in Paris do not adhere to the agreements we have.

Mr. S. Silverman

Having regard to the connection between this Question and the previous Question on the Order Paper, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a great many people in this country would willingly give up the "Dead Sea fruit" for the right to build ships instead of making arms?