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Shipbuilding (Ussr Orders)

Volume 530: debated on Monday 19 July 1954

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46.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps he is taking to encourage British shipbuilders to seek orders in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Eastern Europe.

I have been in constant touch both with the shipbuilding conference and with individual shipbuilders on this subject. Certain shipbuilders have visited Moscow and are now negotiating with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for contracts for merchant shipping. Discussions on Russian requirements as a whole have recently taken place in London between the shipbuilding industry and the Russian trade delegation.

While thanking the Civil Lord for that rather more encouraging reply than some we have had recently, may I ask him whether he has also been in consultation with the President of the Board of Trade in relation to the strategic regulations about the export of shipping to the Soviet Union? Can he now make a statement on that subject?

Yes—I have certainly been in touch with my right hon. Friend. I am not in a position to make any further statement.

Can the Civil Lord now say whether it would be possible for British shipbuilders to accept orders and build vessels of a type similar to those provided for under the Russian-Netherlands Treaty?

That is a different question. First, we have to obtain a firm inquiry before the question of licensing arises.