HC Deb 07 February 1957 vol 564 cc582-3
2. Mr. George Craddock

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he proposes to take to encourage increased imports of tobacco from China and Bulgaria and so to reduce next season the scale of imports of tobacco involving the expenditure of dollars.

Sir D. Eccles

Imports of tobacco are on private account. I am prepared to grant licences freely for imports from China and Bulgaria.

Mr. Craddock

I am very glad to have that reply from the Minister. I hope he realises that if we are not careful we shall lose the race with Japan and West Germany. Last year the trade between Japan and China was £47 million, which is more than double the trade with this country. I think that we ought to do our utmost to increase our trade with China—

Mr. Speaker

This is not an occasion for the hon. Member to tell us what he thinks. He should ask a very short supplementary question, not these long questions.

Mr. Craddock

Does not the Minister think that we could increase our trade in tobacco with Bulgaria, and would that not be a very good dollar saver? What steps does he propose to do that?

Sir D. Eccles

I have told the hon. Member that licences are free. If he likes to smoke Bulgarian tobacco, he can do so.

Mr. Dudley Williams

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, when considering possible tobacco imports from Bulgaria, that at the moment there is a considerable amount of tobacco in Southern Rhodesia which has not yet been sold?

Sir D. Eccles

There is another Question on the Order Paper about Southern Rhodesia, and in answering it I will try to answer my hon. Friend.

Mr. Jay

Is it the Government's general policy to seek non-dollar tobacco wherever we can get it, particularly in the Commonwealth?

Sir D. Eccles

It is on open licence. That is so.