HC Deb 19 March 1969 vol 780 cc487-8
35. Mr. Wall

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on Anglo-South African trade.

Mr. Crosland

Our exports to South Africa were £261 million in 1968, slightly more than in 1967 although South Africa's total imports were slightly down. Our imports from South Africa were £271 million.

Mr. Wall

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is evidence to show that Her Majesty's Government's policy of not supplying defence arms to South Africa is having an adverse effect on our trade? What is being done positively to ensure participation of British firms in the shipbuilding and aircraft industries of South Africa, which are entirely new and important developments?

Mr. Crosland

I take it that the first part of the hon. Gentleman's Question refers to the fact that this Government, like other Governments, is acceding to a United Nations decision on the prohibition of arms to South Africa. On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, the facts of the matter are completely in contradiction to what he said. As my Answer made clear, last year Britain actually increased her share of total South African imports. On the third part of his question, a great many measures are being taken both by B.N.E.C. Africa and by the Government to encourage the kind of trade that he has in mind.

Mr. McNamara

Would my right hon. Friend agree that it is right and proper for the Government to pursue their policy of not supplying arms of any kind to the South African régime at the moment and that, contrary to the expectations of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, the Government have not suffered as a result of that policy?

Mr. Crosland

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I have no doubt that the policy is right and in line with United Nations policy. He is also right in saying, as the Answer which I gave demonstrates with figures, that this country has suffered nothing from this policy.

Mr. Biffen

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that none of the exports to which this Question refers do find their way into Rhodesia?

Mr. Crosland

The Question refers not to exports but to the general question of Anglo-South African trade. The answer I gave shows clearly that in 1968, as against 1967, contrary to what has been constantly prophesied by hon. Gentlemen opposite, the British share of South African imports actually increased.