HC Deb 19 July 1955 vol 544 cc193-4
24. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that, while the trade negotiations with the Roumanians and the Bulgarians have proved unsuccessful because of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in relation to old debts, the Americans have secured a large Bulgarian order for more than $1,000,000 of motor cars; and what his present policy is on this matter.

Mr. R. A. Butler

There is no trade agreement between the U.S.A. and Bulgaria. I understand that the order for motor cars mentioned by the hon. Member was obtained by an American merchant in the ordinary way of business. Her Majesty's Government place no obstacle in the way of the export of ordinary motor cars from the United Kingdom to Eastern European countries.

The bulk of our imports from these countries consists of raw materials and essential foodstuffs and is not subject to import restrictions. It is not, therefore, affected by the negotiations in question which are concerned mainly with goods which we control by import licensing. It is our policy to withhold licences for these goods unless we can secure in return additional facilities for our exports and some provision for the settlement of outstanding debts and claims.

Mr. Davies

Is there any improvement in the discussions about the old and outstanding debts with Roumania and Bulgaria? Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any information on that at the moment?

Mr. Butler

There is not as much improvement as I should like to see, but the matter is still under discussion.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does the Chancellor accept the implication in the Question that the negotiations on these two trade agreements have, in fact, broken down—or are the negotiations continuing?

Mr. Butler

I should not like to say that they had broken down.