HC Deb 14 March 1963 vol 673 cc1510-1
19. Mr. R. Edwards

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that East European Governments wish to increase their purchases of British machinery, particularly chemical plant, he will remove the handicap which his department's present import licensing regulations place on countries of the eastern area, so that they may have the same opportunities as other countries to earn additional sterling.

Mr. Erroll

No, Sir.

Mr. Edwards

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last year West Germany did two and a half times more trade than we did in the eastern area, excluding East Germany, and four times more trade in East Germany? Is he aware that the West Germans are able to do this because they have eliminated the difficulties which exist in this country? Is it not time that our British manufacturers, who want to trade in all parts of the world, were able to do so on equal terms with West German manufacturers?

Mr. Erroll

West Germany also buys a great deal more from Eastern Europe as part of a long tradition, just as we buy a good deal from other parts of the world where we have stronger and greater trading connections. Nevertheless, a large part of our import trade is done on open general licence with the bloc countries which are free to increase their sales of such products to us as much as they wish.