HC Deb 18 June 1969 vol 785 cc462-4
15. Mr. Biffen

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the value of United Kingdom exports to Greece for the current year to date; what percentage change this represents over the corresponding figure for 1968; and if he will make a statement on the prospect for British exporters during the coming 12 months.

Mr. Crosland

The provisional figure to the end of May is £22.5 million, which is an increase of 43 per cent. over the corresponding period of 1968. On prospects for British exports generally this year, I would refer the hon. Member to my speech in the Budget debate.

Mr. Biffen

Would it not be regrettable if this valuable market were imperilled by those ideological zealots who constantly criticise the domestic policies of the Greek Government? Furthermore, would the right hon. Gentleman take this occasion to indicate what are the prospects now of the deal involving the nuclear power station, which has been the subject of a great deal of Press comment?

Mr. Crosland

There are many developments in Greece which I am sure hon. Members on all sides find regrettable. As to the trade aspect. I am constantly asked to limit trade with different countries because of the views taken in this House on the régimes of those countries. I always reply that if I were to encourage trade with only countries of whose régimes we approve, we should trade with very few countries. That, in my view, has nothing to do with the political aspects of what view might be taken by reasonable people of a régime or its behaviour.

As to the atomic energy deal, there have been difficulties about this on the tobacco side of it, but I hope that tobacco manufacturers will be willing to participate in a study with the Greek producers with a view to helping them produce a type of tobacco to suit the requirements of the British market.

Mr. William Hamilton

Is the agreement to sell the atomic reactor inevitably linked with the purchase of Greek tobacco, or is there some other way of clinching the deal?

Mr. Crosland

I should be grateful if my hon. Friend would put down a Question on that. I am not certain about the word "inevitably". Obviously, there has been a link but, off the cuff, I would not like to say whether it is an inevitable link or whether the atomic energy deal can be concluded without the settlement of the tobacco point.