HC Deb 21 May 1957 vol 570 cc1031-2
44. Mr. Swingler

asked the Prime Minister what consideration he has given to the offer repeated by Marshal Bulganin, on behalf of the Soviet Government, in his letter of 20th April, to increase trade with Great Britain to the value of £800 to £1,000 million in the next five years, given a corresponding increase in British purchases from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and if he will give instructions to initiate discussions on this offer.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add at present to the replies which I gave to Questions on 30th April when I informed the House of my interim reply to Mr. Bulganin.

Mr. Swingler

Will not the Prime Minister reconsider this matter? Would not it be worth while to find out exactly what is involved in this offer? At any rate, would it not be worth seeing what materials valuable to the economy of this country the Soviet Government might be prepared to offer? Does not the Prime Minister think that the present restrictions will not last for ever, and that it is at any rate now worth considering what additional trade could be done?

The Prime Minister

Yes, but I think that my first duty—which I try to carry out—is to compile a comprehensive answer to the very long letter addressed to me, which requires very full consideration before an answer can be finally compiled.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it not the case that when Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev left this country last April a statement was made that they were going to buy a great deal from this country—several hundred million pounds worth of goods? Can the Prime Minister say how much in the way of orders has been placed arising out of that visit?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, not without notice; but I would point out that there is a very wide field, and an increasing amount of trade, far outside these strategic controls.