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East-West Trade Controls (Relaxation)

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 29 April 1954

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress he has now made towards a major relaxation of controls on East-West trade.

Discussions are at present proceeding in Paris with other Western Governments with a view to introducing the major relaxations on East-West trade which Her Majesty's Government have in view, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Although we welcome the discussions that are taking place, since it is now two months since the Prime Minister expressed himself in favour of a substantial relaxation of these controls, can the Minister say how soon he will be able to make a statement?

I would remind the hon. Member that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade did envisage that these discussions might take two or three months.

Is the Minister aware that before the Recess I suggested to him that the machine tool industry in particular was losing orders? Is it not possible for the President of the Board of Trade to secure the release of controls in that industry?

I do not under-estimate the importance of the point that the right hon. Member has raised, but if he looks as the programme he will agree that so far there has been no avoidable delay. In fact, we have been congratulated on the speed with which we have moved in this matter.

What progress has been made in the Anglo-Hungarian trade negotiations now taking place in London?

That is a separate question. I referred to it in my answer to a Question yesterday.