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Volume 464: debated on Thursday 12 May 1949

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give an assurance that in concluding the Trade Agreement with the Netherlands providing for an expansion of trade with Indonesia care was taken by his Department to ensure that the sale of goods purchased from this country and stocked in Singapore was not prejudiced by that agreement.

Yes, Sir. My Department was well aware of the importance of the traditional entrepôt trade of Singapore, and as was stated in my reply to the hon. Member's question of 3rd May, this trade is not prejudiced by the trade arrangements recently concluded with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that, quite contrary to what he has said on this occasion or the other it has done and is doing great harm to the entrepôt trade, and that representations have been made to him by chambers of commerce, both native and European; and will he review this question and give me an answer which is a little nearer to the facts?

I do not accept the view that this trade agreement is the cause of the difficulties of the entrepôt trade at the present time. I think that is to be explained by other causes, into which I cannot now go.

In view of the very unsatisfactory and, as I believe, rather glorified case which the Minister has put up, I beg to give notice that I shall endeavour to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the first possible occasion.