HC Deb 08 June 1964 vol 696 cc24-5W
90. Sir A. Hard

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what prospects he sees for closer links with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on agricultural matters as a result of the visits he and the Secretary of State for Scotland made recently to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the occasion of the British Agricultural Fair in Moscow; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Soames

At the invitation of the Soviet Government, I visited the Soviet Union from 12th to 21st May. I had meetings with Mr. Kosygin, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R., with Mr. Volovchenko, the Soviet Minister of Agriculture and with other Ministers and senior officials in Moscow and in the Republics of the Ukraine and Georgia. These and other discussions ranged widely over topics of mutual interest in the spheres of agriculture, horticulture and fisheries. I visited several state, collective and experimental farms, and scientific institutes. I, and the senior scientific advisers who accompanied me, were able to see at first-hand much of interest in agricultural research and practice in the Soviet Union.

One of the matters which Mr. Kosygin discussed with me was the scope for closer Anglo-Soviet co-operation in the field of agricultural research. It was suggested that there could be mutual advantage from a fuller exchange of scientific information and other forms of technical co-operation in the various branches of agricultural and horticultural research. Her Majesty's Government attaches importance to extending effective cooperation in this as in other scientific fields and is arranging for the possibilities to be explored further with the competent Soviet authorities.

On 18th May, I opened the British Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow and was glad to have the opportunity personally to congratulate the Organising Committee who have made it such a resounding success. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who also visited the Exhibition, and I were encouraged by the keen interest taken in the Exhibition by high-ranking Soviet Ministers who after seeing it instructed agricultural specialists from all parts of the Soviet Union to visit it. They are impressed with the achievements of British agriculture and were anxious to learn more through the exhibits of our livestock, machinery, seeds and chemicals for agriculture. The Soviet authorities are anxious, as in our own industry, to follow up the many contacts which were established with U.K. firms. The discussions we have had indicate that there are good prospects for increased trade in agricultural products and equipment.

I should like to express appreciation to the Soviet Government for making the visit possible and for the warm welcome which we received throughout our visit.

Forward to