HC Deb 12 December 1956 vol 562 c432
41. Mr. Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why he will not discuss with the Soviet and Rumanian Governments the possibility of the Soviet and Rumanian Governments supplying Great Britain with oil and petrol against sterling payments.

Commander Noble

The oil export capacity of the Soviet Union is not thought to be very large and, as the hon. Member will be aware, Soviet Government policy plays an important part in the direction of such exports. In view of the hostile part played by the Soviet Government in the Middle East crisis and the many examples we have recently had of the dangers of undue reliance on Soviet good will, Her Majesty's Government do not propose relying upon the Soviet Union for assistance in a matter such as this, which is vital to our economy.

Mr. Lewis

Are we therefore to take it that we are now to allow political considerations to stand in the way of overcoming the economic difficulties with which we are confronted in this country? Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that Western Germany has no petrol rationing and no increase in price because it is getting supplies from Russia and Rumania? Surely, if they are good enough for Western Germany, we ought to follow that example and seek some, too?

Commander Noble

I think my hon. Friend made it quite clear on 3rd December, when he said that British oil companies were informed some time ago that, provided the commercial terms were satisfactory, there was no objection to their purchasing supplies of oil from the Soviet Union. It is understood that British oil companies have received and accepted small-scale commercial offers of oil from the Soviet Union, and commercial negotiations are still going on.