HC Deb 16 February 1981 vol 999 cc15-6
18. Mr. Neil Thorne

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied the United Kingdom trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics does not include components produced by either forced or slave labour.

26. Mr. Bendall

asked the Secretary of Trade what representations he has received about British products being undercut in price by imported Soviet goods made in part or in whole by forced prison labour.

Mr. Parkinson

One Member of the House has corresponded with me on this subject. The Government, and I have no doubt all Members of the House, would deplore the sale in this country of products manufactured in forced labour camps. My powers to prohibit imports are limited, but, where justified, anti-dumping action can and will be taken under established procedures, and my Department is ready to advise on those procedures.

Mr. Thorne

As my hon. Friend agrees with me that it is quite wrong for the West to benefit from the very unfortunate situation of the dissidents—largely Jews and other religious minority groups—in Soviet Russia, does he think that there is anything that the Government could do to lead either Europe or the rest of the world into some system of inspections whereby countries receiving goods from overseas have a right to ensure that the manufacture of those goods is not at the expense of native labour which is grossly underpaid?

Mr. Parkinson

My hon. Friend shares my distaste for trade in these items. I intend to discuss with my EEC colleagues, informally at first, the possibilities of taking action against this type of trade.