HC Deb 12 May 1980 vol 984 cc809-19
1. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, what is the United Kingdom's likely balance of trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics over the next 12 months.

The Minister for Trade (Mr. Cecil Parkinson)

In the 12 months ended March 1980, the crude deficit on trade with the Soviet Union was £418 million. The development of trade over the next 12 months depends on commercial and other factors which I am not in a position to forecast.

Mr. Janner

When the Minister referred to "other factors" was he referring to the treatment of minorities by the Soviet Union, and to cases such as the awful tragedy of the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, who disappeared? For the last 17 years the Soviets have refused to speak about him or reveal his whereabouts.

Mr. Parkinson

The hon. and learned Member has earned himself the reputation of being "the scourge of the Soviets". On this occasion I join him in deploring this appalling incident. As long as the Russians continue to persecute their minorities, as they have, they will continue to have criticism heaped upon them which they deserve.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Does the pound sterling float against the rouble? If not, how is its value determined?

Mr. Parkinson

I would have welcomed notice of that question. If the right hon. Gentleman puts it on the Order Paper I shall make arrangements to answer it.

Mr. Chapman

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the imbalance of trade between this country and Russia has been consistently to the advantage of the Russians? Are there not good political and economic reasons why that imbalance should be reduced, if not eliminated?

Mr. Parkinson

The crude trade figures are a little misleading. About 80 per cent. of our imports from the Soviet Union are of raw materials and a substantial proportion of those are subsequently re-exported by us at a profit. It would probably damage us more than the Soviet Union if we were to act as my hon. Friend suggests.

Mr. Snape

Would it not help our trade deficit, crude and otherwise, if manufactured goods from the Soviet Union bore the clear mark of their country of origin? Is the Minister aware that I have recently written to his right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Minister for Consumer Affairs drawing attention to Russian-produced greeting and Christmas cards which are dumped in this country to the severe disadvantage of a firm in my constituency?

Mr. Parkinson

We are helping the printing industry to mount an anti-dumping action in this case In fact a couple of weeks ago I wrote to the industry and urged it to get a move on and produce evidence. I offered the services of the Government. We are also looking at the question of origin marking of those cards.

  1. Safety of Life at Sea Convention 359 words
  2. cc811-3
  3. Iran 424 words
  4. cc813-5
  5. Air Traffic Control Radar Systems 742 words
  6. cc815-6
  7. Japan 350 words
  8. cc816-7
  9. Monopolies Commission (Referrals Policy) 294 words
  10. cc817-9
  11. Anti-Dumping Procedures 622 words
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