§ 2.35 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government, with reference to Board of Trade Import Licensing Branch Notice No. 920, which now relegates China to the Eastern Area, whether they will state what matters came to their notice in recent months which in their opinion justified the ending under the foregoing notice of Relaxation Area facilities for imports from China.]
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL: (LORD MILLS)
My Lords, the President of the Board of Trade announced on November 4 the removal of nearly all the remaining restrictions on imports from the Relaxation and Dollar Areas. In view of the development of China as an industrial, State-trading country which exercises strict control over imports from the United Kingdom, the Government decided that it would be inappropriate to extend these recent measures of liberalisation to China, and that she should now be treated, for licensing purposes, in the same way as other members of the Sino-Soviet bloc.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that China has been in the Relaxation Area for ten years, and that the fact that she is now, suddenly and gratuitously, being demoted to a less favoured category may result in a substantial diminution in the recent most welcome growth of this country's export trade with China?
§ LORD MILLS
My Lords, in answer to the noble Viscount, I have no reason 918 to think that this action will result in any diminution of our trade with China; and the fact that China is exercising an ever stricter control on our own imports makes it right, I think, that we, too, should discriminate in what we do. In fact, the arrangements which the President of the Board of Trade has made do allow for an increase in trade with China at the present time.