HC Deb 20 January 1953 vol 510 cc18-9W
Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he has cut down purchases of sugar fat, fondant and chocolate from Commonwealth countries and Western Europe and agreed to take from Czechoslovakia £600,000 worth of chocolate and sugar confectionery, £362,000 of sugar fat, £150,000 of fondant and £100,000 of biscuits; why he has permitted the Czechs to allocate these goods only to people acceptable to themselves; why he is paying much higher prices for these imports than he would require to pay Western European countries; and if he will conclude no further agreements on similar terms.

Mr. Mackeson

Under the five-year Anglo-Czechoslovak Trade and Financial Agreement of 1949, the United Kingdom obtains,inter alia, payments in respect of financial obligations to this country and, in return, has undertaken to establish quotas for the import of less essential goods from Czechoslovakia in each year of the Agreement.

The quotas for the year July, 1952–June, 1953, include £600,000 for confectionery, £362,000 for sugar fat and £150,000 for fondant and £100,000 for biscuits. These quotas had to be fixed in July, 1952, for 12 months and were small in relation to the corresponding quotas which applied to Western Europe and certain other countries for the second half of 1952.

It is not the case that Czechoslovakia has been permitted to allocate these imports only to traders acceptable to her. Licences for sugar fat and fondant have been issued to regular importers. Licences for biscuits and confectionery are being issued to applicants who can show they have placed orders with Czechoslovak exporters. Imports of these goods are being made entirely on private account; the prices paid are accordingly a matter for the judgment of the traders concerned.

The amount of the quotas to be fixed for imports from Czechoslovakia for the year July, 1953-June, 1954, will be determined in the light of the conditions prevailing at the time, including the policy on imports from other sources.