HL Deb 12 November 1968 vol 297 cc422-3

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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the present volume of exports from the United Kingdom to Finland; and whether they will give consideration to a British Trade Fair in Finland to increase our export potential.]


My Lords, during the first nine months of 1968 exports from the United Kingdom to Finland were valued at £58.3 million. Consideration is being given to various ways in which British trade with Finland Can be further promoted, but I doubt whether an all-British Trade Fair will prove to be the most effective method.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his reply. Is he aware that under the able leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, a British Parliamentary delegation went to Finland earlier this year? I had the honour of being one of its members. Would he be assured that the Finns themselves wish for much more trade between our two countries? Is he also aware that the Finns, particularly through Finn Focus, have been promoting a number of trade exhibitions in this country this year? Would he agree that any help given to British exporters should be given high priority, in view of the friendly relations existing between our two countries?


My Lords, we have under consideration at the moment a trade drive in Finland in 1970 which will involve a range of events. All-British trade promotions are usually reserved for countries where there is an insufficiency of the normal type of industrial exhibition. We have noted the great help given by the noble Lord, Lord Peddle, and others in their Parliamentary visit, and we are grateful to them.


My Lords, would my noble friend agree that Finnish acceptance of the British tender for the erection of a nuclear reactor in Finland would do a great deal towards redressing the present adverse balance of trade? Would he also inform the House what progress has been made over recent months towards that end?


My Lords, the Finnish nuclear reactor would be a most useful addition to our national order book. As the Finnish Government have decided to put a decision on this matter in cold storage for the time being, I would hazard the opinion that all is not lost; but I can go no further than that.


My Lords, is it not a fact that another country has intervened to prevent the signing of this contract with us?


My Lords, I think it is well known that the Finnish Government has been in a somewhat difficult position on this matter. I think the less said for the moment the better.