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Volume 984: debated on Monday 12 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many United Kingdom firms have won contracts with Iran in fair and open competition with firms in all parts of the world; how many of those firms would be affected if Her Majesty's Government decided to apply econnomic sanctions against Iran; and how many workers he estimates would lose their jobs as a result of such sanctions being implemented.

The effort of sanctions would depend on their precise scope and on the extent to which exports to Iran can be diverted to other markets.

Is the Minister aware that President Carter has lifted the ban on the export of United States-produced wheat to the Soviet Union? Is he also aware that if we apply sanctions against Iran it is possible that American firms will be waiting to jump in and capture our markets?

The hon. Gentleman's concern is unnecessary, because we shall be moving in concert with the Americans on sanctions against Iran. Any trade banned to us will certainly be banned to them.

My hon. Friend is well aware that we are taking sanctions to help the United States—

Order. The hon. Gentleman must put his remarks in the form of a question.

Is my hon. Friend aware that we are taking sanctions to help the United States and that today the Americans have said that they intend to impose sanctions against 30 British products? Will those products be excluded from our list of products on which the sanctions against Iran are to be imposed?

I think that my hon. Friend is confusing two separate issues. One is the American retaliation as a result of our action against their synthetic fibres. The other is the question of possible sanctions against Iran. The House has to discuss later today the enabling measure for sanctions and perhaps that will be a more sensible occasion on which to deal with such details.

Does not the Minister thing it a piece of effrontery on the part of the Government to introduce sanctions, since those who carried on illegal trading with Rhodesia were not only not prosecuted but were relieved of all fears that they would ever be prosecuted? In view of that, are not the proposed sanctions on Iran a complete charade?

I never thought that I would live to see the day when the right hon. Gentleman became a mere echo of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), who raised that point in the House last week.