56. Sir JOHN SANDEMAN ALLEN
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Russian Government is still chartering foreign, rather than British, ships to carry cargoes sold by Russian State trade organisations to this country, notwithstanding that the adverse balance of visible trade in favour of Russia has 608 amounted to £127,500,000 in the last 10 years; in what proportions the Russian Government have chartered British and foreign vessels for such cargoes during the last 12 months; and whether His Majesty's Government will make it a condition of the continuance of the existing trade agreement with Russia that that country should redress the trade balance by increasing purchases of British goods and making full use of British shipping on equitable terms?
§ 57. Mr. MITCHESON
asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take in response to the resolutions sent to him by the Council of the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom which, after correspondence with the Anglo-Soviet Shipping Company, Limited, respecting timber chartering from Soviet ports, have urged that His Majesty's Government should make it a condition of the continuance of the present trade agreement between this country and Russia that the Russian Government should make full use of British shipping on equitable terms?
§ Mr. COLVILLE (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
I am aware that the Russian Government is chartering a large number of foreign ships to carry cargoes from Russia to this country but I am unable at present to give the proportions of British and foreign vessels chartered for such cargoes during the last 12 months. Inquiries on the latter point are being made. The question of continuing the existing trade agreement with Russia is at present under consideration but I would observe that this agreement must be looked at from the point of view of all the interests concerned and not merely that of shipping. No negotiations for fresh trade agreements with Russia or other foreign Governments can take place until after the Ottawa Conference but, if and when such negotiations take place, the representations of the shipping industry will receive full consideration.
Sir J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
Can the hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will take care that the British chartering market is not being destroyed in the meantime?
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Is the fixing up of these ships by Russia not in accordance with the terms which were laid down to them, as to buying British ships already built, instead of ordering new construction, as a condition of getting extended credits.