HC Deb 11 July 1961 vol 644 cc200-1
31. Mr. A. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that British trade with the German Democratic Republic in the first three months of 1961 totalled £5,335,306, that the figures for the first three months of 1959 and 1960 were respectively £1,920,518 and £4,000,455 and that British exports to East Germany at £2,350,554 are nearly three times as much as in 1959; and, in view of the fact that British exports and re-exports together at £3,447,107 are three times as large as the £1,888,199 exports from the German Democratic Republic into Great Britain, what action he is taking to increase British purchases in the German Democratic Republic.

Mr. Maudling

I am aware of the figures referred to in the first part of the Question. I am also aware that the figures for the first five months of 1961 show a substantial increase in United Kingdom imports from East Germany. United Kingdom trade with East Germany in 1961 is the subject of an agreement between the Federation of British Industries and the East German Chamber of Foreign Trade. This provides scope for an increase in imports into this country. It is for the East German authorities to secure the business required to enable advantage to be taken of this.

Mr. Lewis

Do not the figures show that the East Germans are anxious to carry on trade with this country and that we are exporting quite an amount to East Germany? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that unless there is some assistance given to the East Germans to earn foreign currency, particularly sterling, it will be difficult for them to buy our exports?

Mr. Maudling

There is plenty of room both within the quotas available and the open general licence items for more East German sales in this country if they can do the job of selling. I do not think that it is up to me to sell their goods for them.

Mr. Jeger

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the figures quoted include the substantial amounts being paid in commission to political contact men and would it facilitate a greater amount of trade were it known on both sides that these political contact men are not necessary?

Mr. Maudling

I should need notice of that question.