HL Deb 15 June 1955 vol 193 cc109-10

2.41 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their attention has been drawn to the trade agreement (as reported in The Times of 5th May) negotiated between and signed by a Chinese delegation and Japanese business organisations in Tokyo on 4th May, in which the first of five goods lists for export to China consists exclusively of embargoed items such as ships' steel plates and bars, railway equipment, and heavy machinery and generators; whether the embargoed items are to be subjected to review and prohibition by C.O.C.O.M., and, if not, what steps Her Majesty's Government propose to take to enable British traders to compete on equal term; with the Japanese in these items in the China market.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are well aware of the trade agreement to which the noble Lord refers. This is a private arrangement between an unofficial Japanese delegation and the Chinese authorities. The Japanese Government is not a party to it. The agreement takes substantially the same form as previous agreements in 1952 and 1953 whose conclusion, so far as we are aware, in no way affected the operation of the strategic controls by Japan.

Japan is a member of the group of countries which consult together about the enforcement of the United Nations' recommendations on the classes of goods which should be embargoed to China. Her controls are similar to our own and include an embargo on the export to China of the goods mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord. Elibank, in his Question. We have no reason to suppose that the Japanese Government will depart from the agreed policy. The question of British traders not being able to compete on equal terms with the Japanese in the China market does not therefore arise.


My Lords, I beg to thank the noble Lord for his Answer. May I ask him whether, seeing that the embargo was imposed in 1951, in relation to the war in Korea only, and has not since been extended to include any other area, Her Majesty's Government will now take the necessary steps to move in the United, Nations that the embargo be brought to an end?


My Lords, that raises a far wider question than that originally put down by the noble Viscount, but I can assure him that all the implications of his supplementary question are well understood by Her Majesty's Government. I may also remind the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government are anxious to see trade with China in non-strategic goods developed as much as possible.