HC Deb 31 July 1958 vol 592 cc1579-80
38. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to open negotiations with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, for the purpose of extending trade with that country, for a new trade agreement, in view of the readiness of Russia to make similar agreements with other West European nations.

The President of the Board of Trade (Sir David Eccles)

No such negotiations are contemplated. Trade is flowing freely over a wide range of goods and I have no reason to think that it would be assisted by a trade agreement.

Mr. Allaun

Since the President of the Board of Trade himself has expressed the desire for more exports of consumer goods and like manufactures to Russia, and particularly if full benefit is to be derived from yesterday's welcome news of relaxations, will not the right hon. Gentleman seek such an agreement quickly? Has not every other major Western European country signed such an agreement? Why have we not done so?

Sir D. Eccles

We do not think that an agreement would help, because the goods which Russia sells us come into this country on open general licence. In other words, there is nothing on our side which we could offer. It is our information that the Soviet Government are limited only by shortage of sterling from buying more than they are buying now.

55. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that British subsidiaries of United States companies are being prevented from selling to Russia and China goods not on the embargoed list because of United States restrictions on the parent companies; and whether he will discuss this problem with the American Government, with a view to removing these restrictions on British firms.

Sir D. Eccles

No, Sir; but if I had information of a specific case, I would look into the matter further.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentle-aware that there are British firms making innocuous articles such as typewriters and electric shavers, which are not allowed to export such goods to China because of the total embargo on the export of any goods to China by the parent companies? Will he raise this matter with the American Government if I send him particulars?

Sir D. Eccles

I think the hon. Lady would do well to wait and see the changes in the embargo list.

Mrs. Castle

It does not affect them.