HC Deb 28 March 1956 vol 550 cc2151-2
38. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the China Committee of the Paris Consultative Group is to discuss the ban on export of commercial vehicles to China; and what view is to be expressed by the British representative.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Although Her Majesty's Government hope that proposals for a review of the China controls will be brought before the China Committee of the Paris Consultative Group at an early date, no date has yet been fixed for a discussion. Since such discussions are confidential, I am unable to disclose the view which would be expressed by the British representative.

Mr. Chapman

What is happening about this? Why is there all this dilatoriness and indecisiveness on the part of the Government? Is the Secretary of State aware that there is no chance of the American Government changing their mind during a Presidential election year? Why does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not take courageous action and give a lead by allowing British exporters to send commercial vehicles to China?

Mr. Lloyd

It has been our policy to deal with these matters in concert with our Allies, and I am seeking to further that policy.

Mr. M. Lindsay

Whatever may be the arguments for maintaining a strategic list of prohibited imports to Russia and the rest of the Communist world, is not it the most complete nonsense that N.A.T.O. countries should have a separate and more severely drawn-up strategic list for China?

Mr. Lloyd

As was stated in the communiqué issued after the Washington talks, a review is taking place of that China list.

Mr. Harold Davies

Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that responsible British businessmen consider this to be an infringement of British sovereignty and economic rights? As representatives of the people, have not hon. Members the right to demand from the Government an explanation of what is taking place in this Consultative Group.

Mr. Lloyd

I think that we should be very foolish not to continue to work through the machinery which is laid down between us and our Allies.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that on these benches we feel that these arrangements are now getting seriously out of date and, in particular, that the distinction between the control of deliveries to Russia on the one side and China on the other is really without any sensible foundation? Will he say, first, whether these matters were discussed at Washington, in the talks which he had with Mr. Dulles; and, secondly, how soon we may expect a final decision in this matter?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that there is a very great difference of opinion between the right hon. Gentleman and myself in this matter. It was raised at Washington, and our views were perfectly clearly put forward.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer the last part of my supplementary question? When does he expect to be able to get this matter settled?

Mr. Lloyd

I can only say, "As soon as possible".

Mr. Smithers

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that nothing could do more harm to the cause of peace and our relations with China than a precipitate attempt to "go it alone" in this matter?