HC Deb 23 March 1961 vol 637 cc563-4
26. Mr. Gower

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many British firms participated in the Leipzig Fair, 1961; what increase this represented over the previous fair; and what reports he has received of business done and inquiries received.

Mr. Maudling

As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said on 28th February, we are informed that 225 British firms exhibited; this total represents an increase of more than 55 per cent. over the corresponding figure for 1960. Preliminary information I have received indicates that most United Kingdom exhibitors were satisfied with the results they achieved and with the contacts made with senior representatives of Communist countries. In a few instances, disappointment has been expressed that some exhibits specifically requested by the East German authorities have not been sold and may have to be returned to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Gower

While my right hon. Friend cannot intervene, for obvious reasons, at Government level, will he take account of the complaints, some of which I have received myself, about the siting and nature of the British pavilions, which were most inadequate, unflattering and unhelpful to effective exhibition by many British firms, who this year attempted to expand their exports in this direction? While he cannot intervene with the East German authorities, will he somehow or other give help and advice to our industrialists on what can be done?

Mr. Maudling

The reports I have seen show that many of our industries, particularly the steel industry, put up very effective exhibitions indeed. So far as I am concerned, the more trade we do with East Germany the better.

Mr. Lee

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is becoming something of a farce, because when we go to see these fairs we find that most of the countries of the world are represented there—the United States and France and other Western powers—and that many of them have direct trade agreements with their own Governments, including, I think, Western Germany as well? Will he have a look at this matter again, instead of leaving it to the F.B.I., and also do something to facilitate air travel, because there was no direct B.E.A. flight from London, nor were any proper representations made by the Board of Trade? Cannot we have something done about that?

Mr. Maudling

Our practice in this matter is exactly the same as that of other N.A.T.O. countries. The hon. Member should not take at their face value all the stories which come from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

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