HC Deb 24 March 1959 vol 602 c1111
36. Mr. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to make a statement concerning his investigations into the Russian desire for long-term trade credits.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. J. K. Vaughan-Morgan)

I cannot add to the Answer which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) on 12th March.

Mr. Lewis

That was no Answer. Is the Minister aware of the fact that only yesterday the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance informed me that we are now paying £64 million a year in National Insurance unemployment benefits and National Assistance grants to men who are unemployed in this country? Would not it be better to make a large financial credit to the Russians and put these people to work? Is it not better to have them working than to pay £50 million or £60 million in dole?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

If the hon. Gentleman will refer to the answer to the supplementary question on the earlier occasion, he will see that my right hon. Friend said: This is a difficult question but one which is well worth while investigating. We are trying to obtain more information from the Russians on the subject."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 1436.]

Mr. Biggs-Davison

While it is desirable to increase trade with Soviet Russia, would not my hon. Friend agree that if there are applications for long-term trade credits, priority should be given to Commonwealth countries?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

In general terms, yes.