HC Deb 29 January 1959 vol 598 cc1232-3
14. Mr. Albu

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the effect on United Kingdom export trade, what action he proposes to take arising out of the refusal of the United States Army Corps of Engineers to accept the low tender by the English Electric Company for turbines to be installed at the Greer's Ferry Dam.

Sir D. Eccles

I saw the United States charge d'affaires last Friday and expressed to him the grave concern with which Her Majesty's Government viewed this decision.

Mr. Albu

While not blaming American politicians for putting pressure upon their Government in the interests of their constituents, in exactly the same way as hon. Members of this House do upon ours, does not the President of the Board of Trade think that to change the rules in the middle of the game is really not very sporting? Does not this action make nonsense of the Government's policy of increasing trade liberalisation and moving towards convertibility?

Sir D. Eccles

Mr. Dulles himself has said that it would have been very much better if the rule had been announced beforehand. Of course, the hon. Gentleman is perfectly right. All countries in the free world ought to move towards greater exchange of goods.

Mr. Jay

Will the President of the Board of Trade agree that any representations he may make on this to the United States will have the support of the whole of this House? Can he say whether he has yet had a reply to the representations he has told us he made a short time ago?

Sir D. Eccles

I am grateful to hear that the whole House agrees on this matter. I am still awaiting a reply from the United States Embassy.

Mr. Osborne

How can we justify moral indignation being shown over this denial of imports into America of our electrical goods when we are all the time denying free entry of Hong Kong goods into this country?

Sir D. Eccles

My hon. Friend is a little hard on us. In fact we have welcomed an agreement between the textile industries of Lancashire and Hong Kong to admit a very large quantity.

Mr. Ellis Smith

It is the skilled engineers of this country who have got a grievance.

Mr. Shinwell

May we ask the Government not to regard this matter lightly, because it may be extended to other important industrial developments in this country — for example, shipping? Although we seem to be becoming a satellite of the United States, can their attention be directed to the fact that we still want to live?

Sir D. Eccles

We do not regard the matter lightly. The right hon. Gentleman can rest assured of that.