HC Deb 06 November 1953 vol 520 c4W
Sir J. Barlow

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that invitations are being issued for trade talks to take place in Moscow; how far he considers that participation will be beneficial to this country; and what action he proposes to take with regard to representation of this country.

Mr. Eden

Her Majesty's Government are anxious to encourage an expansion of legitimate trade with Russia and welcome recent indications that the Soviet authorities share that desire. There are already in existence normal channels through which trade is conducted and Her Majesty's Government and, I am sure, organised industry, would be very ready to consider suggestions for facilitating contacts between United Kingdom traders and Soviet trading organisations. In particular, we have always favoured a two-way traffic of business visits between the United Kingdom and the U.S.S.R.

I am, however, informed that the activities of the British Council for the Promotion of International Trade, which is the body issuing these invitations, are not solely or even primarily commercial, and that this body, which was founded after the last year's Moscow Economic Conference, is a Communist front organisation and is mainly concerned with the dissemination of Communist propaganda. In the circumstances, Her Majesty's Government are advising firms against contributing to such activities by visiting Moscow under the aegis of the British Council for the Promotion of International Trade.