HC Deb 21 May 1957 vol 570 cc1024-5
33. Mr. J. Hynd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will provide such relaxation in the sterling restrictions with Egypt as to enable the immediate resumption of imports to Great Britain of Egyptian pickling onions.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

I am informed that Egyptian exporters have recently been able to resume exports of onions direct to this country and that some supplies have already arrived. As to the relaxation of our restrictions on payments to Egypt, I would refer the hon. Member to the Prime Minister's statement on 13th May, 1957.

Mr. Hynd

Is the Chancellor aware that I was told in an Answer on 18th April that there was no restriction at all from this side, but that it was entirely due to an Egyptian ban on exports to this country? Can we be assured that if the Egyptian Government are now authorising these exports, no ban will be placed on them on this side, and that manufacturers can be assured of a continued inflow of these onions, in so far as they can pay for them?

Mr. Thorneycroft

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, that raises some pretty far-reaching questions about payment, on which I cannot add anything to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his speech a few days ago.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the first part of his original Answer about the Egyptians renewing their imports of onions to this country is quite correct, and that it is causing considerable concern amongst the onion growers of East Anglia?

Mr. Dugdale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in fact the manufacturers of this country are unable to get onions from British farms, because they simply are not available in the quantities required? Does he realise that this is a very serious matter for many manufacturers, some of whom may be putting their workers on short time in consequence?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Important though that matter may be, I would not consider it a ground for altering or adjusting our policy on payments in regard to Egypt.