HC Deb 11 June 1964 vol 696 cc630-2
Q4. Mr. Rankin

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he is having with the President of the United States on a review of the restrictions on the export of strategic goods to Communist countries.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have been asked to reply.

The strategic embargo list is under constant review and Her Majesty's Government are in touch with all other Governments that operate it.

Mr. Rankin

Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that nowadays the strategic list is just as dead as the dodo and that that has been recognised by many of the other countries to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman refers, of which the latest is the United States? In view of the situation which has now been created, would the right hon. and learned Gentleman ask the Prime Minister to inform Cocom that he will declare that only arms, munitions and armaments should figure on the strategic list as far as this country is concerned and that all other commodities at present on it should be goods which Britain is prepared to trade with other nations as peaceful goods?

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly convey the hon. Member's suggestions to my right hon. Friend. It has been the policy of the Government that the list should be as small as possible, consistent with safeguarding certain essential strategic interests, and we have constantly used our influence to get this list restricted.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Is it true that when it was proposed that a British company should supply a nuclear power station to Roumania this was at once rejected by Her Majesty's Government, but the United States, on the other hand, is considering supplying a power station of that kind to Roumania?

Mr. Lloyd

There are a number of Questions to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development about that matter on the Order Paper today.

Mr. Harold Davies

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, while the present Government maintain their mulish obstinacy to this constructive approach to world trade, other parts of the world, such as members of N.A.T.O., are doing their utmost to increase East-West trade with countries which are considered Communist, and even the Soviet Union itself is talking now of a new set-up when N.A.T.O. has to be reformed in 1969? Why not give a lead and soften the cold war?

Mr. Lloyd

There is no question whatever of mulish obstinacy. In fact, we have given a lead in this matter. We have recently concluded arrangements for liberalising trade and we have, over a period of years, consistently used our influence to see that trade shall be freer and the list as small as possible.

Mr. Jay

As the Questions to the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade are not likely to be reached, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether atomic power station machinery is covered by these restrictions or not?

Mr. Lloyd

As at present drawn, it is.

Mr. P. Williams

With reference to the whole field of expanding exports, can my right hon. and learned Friend give an undertaking that nothing will be done to curb British exports to Spain?

Mr. Lloyd

Whatever be my views on my hon. Friend's suggestion—I think that he can guess what they are—they do not arise on this Question.

Mr. Snow

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is some anxiety about this list, for instance, in connection with the export of civil aircraft, which are considered to be strategic goods because they may contain American electrical equipment and, therefore, there is a veto on them by the Americans? This is working outrageously against the British aircraft industry.

Mr. Lloyd

I am aware of the difficulties and have been aware of them for a number of years. As I say, we have done everything we can to get this list as liberalised as possible while protecting certain essential strategic interests.

Mr. Rankin

Does the Leader of the House realise that one of the Questions to which he referred as being put to the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade is mine dealing with this point? Will he remember that, in 1956, this country still kept the Dakota on the list of banned goods for export to Russia when Russia was already making the preliminary flights of the TU 104? Will the Government come up to date some time before the election?

Mr. Lloyd

A great deal of progress has been made since 1956 and trade has substantially expanded.