HC Deb 19 March 1959 vol 602 cc604-6
9. Mr. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give the reasons why he did not officially attend the Leipzig Fair; and why he omitted to make arrangements for an official observer to be in attendance on behalf of his Department.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

It would not be appropriate for Ministers to attend officially this or any other fair organised by the East German authorities, who are not recognised by Her Majesty's Government. As regards official observers, we did not ask this year for visas as our request in 1958 for visas was refused by the Soviet authorities.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister of State aware that, whilst appreciating that one may not recognise the East German Government, the same applies to West Germany? One hundred million pounds worth of trade is being done at present between East and West Germany to the detriment of British traders? Does the Minister of State not think that we should take the opportunity of showing at the fair the British way of life, which shows the contrast between East and West? Is he aware that the British pavilion, which was a great tribute to the British business men, who did a good job, was inferior to the one we ought to have had? Will he not give some assistance in order to show the British way of life at the fair?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I have already answered one question about a contribution to the fair in the shape of a United Kingdom Government pavilion. It was a rather lengthy supplementary question. There are now opportunities for trade with Eastern Germany, and we welcome the agreement which the F.B.I. has recently concluded.

Mr. Bence

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that vast quantities of products from Eastern Germany, with much literature printed in the United States attached to them, are circulating in the United States, and that literature can be bought in London? The literature is being published in the United States because the products are being sold in the United States, but we will not take them.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

Most people agree that, under the circumstances, the F.B.I. reached a very satisfactory agreement with the East Germans.

22. Mr. M. Lindsay

asked the President of the Board of Trade what contribution was made by Her Majesty's Government towards the cost of the British trade exhibition at the recent Leipzig Fair.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

None, Sir.

Mr. Lindsay

Is my hon. Friend aware that the British pavilion at Leipzig, which was purely an individual effort of a few British firms, was such a poor show that it would have been very much better if no British exhibitors had been there at all? Will he consider the very important focus which the Leipzig Fair has on the East-West trade and also the political aspects involved in Great Britain putting on such a poor show on the edge of the Iron Curtain, particularly as we are able to give £14,000 to support the British effort at Lisbon? Will he look at this matter again?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

My hon. Friend knows that as we do not recognise the East German authorities official participation is not practicable, but I shall be very glad indeed to discuss with him the quality of the representation of the British firms that were there. It has no relevance, I may say, to the £14,000 we are spending at Lisbon.