Russia.

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 24th February 1931.

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Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

8.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has now received any report from the Economic Committee of the League of Nations as to their investigations into dumping by Soviet Russia; and whether he has any information to give the House on the matter?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

I am not aware of any investigation by the Economic Committee of the League into the specific question of dumping by Soviet Russia. The committee, I understand, were considering the general question of dumping, bounties and subsidies at a session last week, but I have not yet received any information in regard to the proceedings.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Will the right hon. Gentleman be receiving some information on this matter?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

I am not, of course, sure of that, but I imagine that we shall get details of what takes place.

Photo of Major Murdoch Wood Major Murdoch Wood , Banffshire

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that during the last few days a considerable quantity of Scottish herrings was sold to Russia at considerably less than cost price?

Photo of Mr John Grace Mr John Grace , Wirral

9.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that consignments of soap manufactured in Russia by slave labour have now reached this country and are being sold at prices which manufacturers in this country cannot compete with; and whether he is prepared to take any steps to assist this industry?

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

On a point of Order. May I ask whether this question does not contravene the Standing Orders of this House as regards the inaccuracies contained in it?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I do not see anything out of order in it.

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

34,339 cwts. of hard soap were registered as imported into the United Kingdom from the Soviet Union during the 12 months ended 31st December last. The declared value of this soap was £45,666, or an average of £1 6s. 7d. per cwt., but I have no information as to the actual price at which any of the soap was sold in this country. None has been imported during January last. As regards the second part of the question, I have nothing to add to the answer which was given to the question on this subject asked by the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) on 10th February.

Photo of Mr John Grace Mr John Grace , Wirral

When is the right hon. Gentleman going to wake up to realise the danger to the trade of the country?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Questions are put down to obtain information and for nothing else.

Mr. MACLEAN:

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the statement contained in the question that this soap is produced by compulsory labour?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The point raised by the hon. Member has already been dealt with.

Photo of Mr Alexander Haycock Mr Alexander Haycock , Salford West

May I be allowed to put down a question concerning the products of other countries and make similar allegations and get the question passed at the Table?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

When the hon. Member submits his question, we will see whether it is in order.

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

15.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the quantity of soft fruit pulp imported from Russia during the years 1929 and 1930?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

During the years 1929 and 1930 no imports of fruit pulp in syrup into the United Kingdom were registered as consigned from Russia. Fruit pulp of other kinds would be included under the general heading of fruit not liable to duty as such, preserved without sugar, other than canned or bottled. Under this head the imports from Russia during 1929 were 44,767 cwts., valued at £85,202 but how much of this was fruit pulp cannot be stated. The corresponding figures for 1930 are not available.

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to do anything to deal with this menace to the British fruit growing industry?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

That question is like all the others. It suggests some embargo or restriction. My object is to promote trade and not to destroy it.

Mr. PALMER:

Who are the people responsible for purchasing these goods?

Sir F. HALL:

24.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any timber has been imported into this country during the last 18 months from the following districts of Russia, namely, the Kola peninsula, including the M[...]rman coast, the Karelian northern areas of Russia, and Zyryani?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

I regret that the desired information is not available as imports from different districts in the Soviet Union are not separately recorded.

Sir F. HALL:

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it will be possible to obtain this information in view of the fact that imports from these districts have been refused in the United States because of having been produced by convict labour?

Photo of Mr Alexander Haycock Mr Alexander Haycock , Salford West

Before that question is answered, may I ask whether, after full investigation, the embargo has not been lifted?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

In reply to the second supplementary question, I think that some time ago that embargo was lifted. As regards the third supplementary question, I feel that I cannot promise to try to separate the imports from any country into the different districts within that country. That would involve a very great deal of labour, and I do not think that it would be justified by the results.

Mr. JAMES C. WELSH (Coatbridge):

26.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the quantity of maize starch imported into this country for the past three years from Russia; and if there is any evidence that it is being sold at a price below the cost of production?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

The total imports into the United Kingdom of maize starch, not for edible purposes, registered as consigned from the Soviet Union (Russia) amounted to 1,640 cwts. in 1928, 4 cwts. in 1929, and 24,245 cwts. in 1930, the average declared value in 1930 being 10s. 7d. per cwt. Provision was first made in 1930 for the separate enumeration in the trade returns of maize starch for edible purposes, and in that year the recorded imports from the Soviet Union amounted to 24,873 cwts. of an average declared value of 9s. 5d. per cwt. I have no information as to the cost of production of maize starch in the Soviet Union.

Photo of Marquess of  Titchfield Marquess of Titchfield , Newark

Arising out of that answer—[Interruption.] Mr. Speaker, on a point of Order. [Interruption.] I ask you, Sir, is it in order whenever I get up to ask a supplementary question for hon. Members to roar at me like that?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I thought the Noble Lord was being received with applause.

Marquess of TITCHFIELD:

Arising out of that answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman what has been the cost of this commodity in blood and misery?