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Anglo-Soviet Agreement

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 14 April 1949

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the position now regarding the talks relating to the extension of the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement of 1947.

My right hon. Friend and I met the Head of the Soviet Trade Delegation on 12th April and had preliminary discussions about the principles on which a one-year Trade Agreement might be based.

Does my hon. Friend think that the President of the Board of Trade appreciates that if he gives way to the pressure now being exerted from the opposite side of this House, and from America, to diminish, even to end our trade with the Soviet Union, he gives a guarantee that Great Britain will be engulfed in a major economic disaster, with mass unemployment and all the misery attendent upon it, and that that position is even now approaching our country?

It is not our side alone that is holding up these negotiations. We are anxious to get an agreement.

In view of the statement made by the Chancellor in introducing his Budget about the baffling dollar deficit, would not the Minister help the Chancellor to get out of his mess by developing alternative sources of supply with the Soviet Union and the Eastern countries of Europe? It is the only solution of the baffling problem of the dollar deficit; it is not a rouble deficit.

My right hon. Friend and I have been trying for many months to get these supplies.