§ 2.40 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that restrictions on the export of electronic equipment to China have been shown to be injuriously curtailing the business of British manufacturers ready and anxious to sell to that market; and whether they will arrange for the granting of export licences in cases of goods of this nature which are demonstrably intended for China's industrialisation programme.]396
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
My Lords, the present embargo list, announced on August 15 last, at the end of a detailed review in the Paris Consultative Group, affords ample scope for expanding trade. The items of electronic equipment which, by agreement with our friends and Allies, may not be exported to the Sino-Soviet bloc have direct and important uses in the military field or are eminently susceptible for designing up-to-date weapons or producing them. Few of these items have industrial applications to any extent which we think significant. The embargo inevitably affects the business of some Western exporters. Her Majesty's Government look carefully at all applications for licences for the export of electronic equipment to China, and will continue to grant licences in any cases where they can properly do so.
My Lords, I beg to thank the noble Earl for his Answer. From that I gather—is this not correct?—that there is a more flexible approach now in this matter. If that is so, it will be heartily welcomed by those manufacturers in this industry who, up to date, have been kept out of the China market for the sale of the more advanced equipment.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, as I think the noble Viscount knows, the list was revised this year. But, as a matter of fact, the embargo applies only to a very limited range of electronic equipment. I think that for the last five years £77,000 worth of electronic equipment has been exported, having received a licence, while only £4,000 worth has been refused a licence.
My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that the more advanced electronic equipment is coming along now in a great rush, and that there will be many more applications for export in the future than in the past? Do I understand that it is in regard to that that there is a more flexible approach?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Yes. The Government are anxious to give licences in any cases where they can do so, subject to their undertaking.
My Lords, when the noble Earl says that licences will be given favourable consideration in suitable cases, 397 does that refer to consideration by Her Majesty's Government, or does it mean a reference back to the Paris Group?