HC Deb 28 November 1957 vol 578 cc1268-9
34 and 35. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he is aware that British firms are prevented from exporting to Russia types of machine tools less advanced than those now being imported into this country from Czechoslovakia and Eastern Germany; and whether he will reconsider these restrictions in the light of the machine tool industry's need for additional export business;

(2) on what technical advice from outside his Department he drew up the list published in the Board of Trade Journal for June of 40 classes of machine tools embargoed for export to Russia and a further 10 classes subject to quantitative limitation.

Sir D. Eccles

The list was based on the recommendations of the Paris Consultative Group. I am aware that a small number of tools of the types listed have been imported from Czechoslovakia, though I would not agree that they are more advanced in design than our own product. We do our best to avoid marginal anomalies of this kind and next time the current arrangements for machine tools are reviewed in the Paris Group we will discuss this case with the other members.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Minister aware that Lancashire and other firms are anxious to accept such orders, and that recently a large Czechoslovak boring and turning mill was installed here of a type which we have been prevented from selling to them? Is not that a crazy situation, and is not the Minister's first responsibility to the British Parliament and public to see that regulations are not anomalous, damaging and out of date?

Sir D. Eccles

Yes, I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but we have to discuss these matters with the other members of the group.

Mr. Jay

As the original purpose of these restrictions was to limit technical advance in the Soviet Union, is the President of the Board of Trade really satisfied that in their present form they are serving any useful purpose now?

Sir D. Eccles

They need to be reviewed, and they will be reviewed.

Mr. Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Anglo-Czech Trade Agreement, concluded by his Department last year, has brought considerable benefits to the British engineering industry, including a new export trade from my constituency to Czechoslovakia?