HC Deb 19 March 1969 vol 780 cc476-7
16. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he refuses to allow the import of oil from Rumania.

Mr. Dell

The question of taking Rumanian oil cannot be separated from an acceptable settlement of outstanding British claims against the Rumanian Government, including claims by British oil companies.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Is the Minister saying, therefore, that we do not trade with countries that have expropriated British assets without compensation? Is not it in the interests of our trading position that discussions should now be initiated with Rumania to see whether an arrangement cannot be made after all these years?

Mr. Dell

I am certainly not saying the first thing the hon. Gentleman suggested. I would very much welcome discussions which would lead to the settlement of the claims. That would be beneficial to the trade of both countries.

Mr. Brooks

As the Government are exporting, for example, the B.A.C. 111 to Rumania, and no doubt wish to expand their trade with Rumania, is it not completely illogical to exclude from trade one of the obvious commodities the Rumanians can sell to get hard currency?

Mr. Dell

The claims in question are very large. We judge that it is right, in an attempt to get the settlement of these justified claims, to take this attitude in respect of the import of Rumanian oil.