HC Deb 18 June 1969 vol 785 cc473-4
52. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on his official visit to Moscow and on the future of Anglo-Soviet trade.

Mr. Crosland

I visited the Soviet Union at the beginning of this month to discuss with the Soviet Minister of Foreign Trade the development of trade between our two countries, and to sign a new trade agreement for the period from 1st July 1969 to 31st December 1975. The text of the agreement will be laid before Parliament as a White Paper later this month. I expect Anglo-Soviet trade, which doubled in value between 1964 and 1968, to continue to grow; and I hope it will become more diversified.

I also took the opportunity of being in Moscow to meet the Soviet Minister of Civil Aviation to express my interest in negotiations being opened for an air route across Siberia to the Far East.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

While I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman, unlike the Minister of Technology, took the opportunity to raise the case of Mr. Gerald Brooke, may I ask him whether there was full discussion of the persistently adverse balance of trade with the Soviet Union, and what will be done to redress it?

Mr. Crosland

Yes, there was, of course, discussion on the adverse balance of trade, and the Minister of Foreign Trade assured me that he wished to see an increase in British exports to the Soviet Union. I must point out that this adverse balance has diminished considerably in the last two or three years, and that a considerable part of it is due to our imports of diamonds which we then re-export to other countries.