HC Deb 08 February 1971 vol 811 cc27-8
40. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to stimulate and expand Great Britain's trade with eastern Europe, in the light of West Germany's improved relations with Poland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Mr. Noble

The Government will continue to offer the full range of export services to all British exporters, on whom responsibility for the expansion of trade with Eastern Europe chiefly depends.

Mrs. Short

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, which is reasonably encouraging. If the right hon. Gentleman asked his right hon. Friend about his experiences in his previous job, no doubt he could tell him that the West Germans work very hard in Eastern Europe and, even at a time when their relationship with the Soviet Union was less favourable than now, were in fact doing a great deal more trade in all the Eastern European countries than we ever did. Will the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, bear in mind that this is a very profitable and expanding market for British industry—[Interruption.]

I find it very difficult, Mr. Speaker, to make myself heard against the row coming from hon. Gentlemen opposite. Shall I start again?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady had already asked one supplementary question.

Mrs. Short

Will the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, give special attention to this matter, particularly in view of the drop in engineering orders which we have recently experienced?

Mr. Noble

I assure the hon. Lady that trade with all these countries has been increasing at a satisfactory rate. I shall, of course, consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about any tips which he can give to encourage our people to work as hard as the West Germans.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that expanding trade with Eastern Europe often means taking horticultural or agricultural produce which is already in surplus in this country?

Mr. Noble

I am certain that my hon. Friend knows how well briefed I am on this matter by many of my hon. Friends. It is true that some horticultural products are taken. The figure is about 2 per cent. to 2.5 per cent.