Orders of the Day — British Advertisements, Russia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 December 1944.

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Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , Oxford 12:00, 1 December 1944

I submit that my right hon. Friend is wrong on the merits, and badly wrong. There are two factors to be considered. It is true that, in a country in which trade orders are determined by Government organisations of one sort or another, orders are placed by a different kind of functionary than in a country where free enterprise is the rule. I do not know if it has occurred to my right hon. Friend that the person who places the order in each case has to know about the goods for which he places the order, whether he happens to be a functionary of Government or the servant of a firm, and if he is not told about what goods are available for him he will not place the orders.

It does not matter who it is in Russia that places the orders for British goods, whether a Central Commissar or somebody within the confines of the Crimea or Uzbegistan—he still has to know about the British goods before he can order them, and if, in fact, these trade journals are to carry advertisements of nothing but American wares, we may be absolutely certain that nothing but American wares will be ordered. My right hon. Friend seems to me in this respect to be totally devoid of imagination. If we want the Russian Commissar, or whoever it is who orders the goods from abroad which Russians need, to be British-minded, he has to be approached in exactly the same way as any other customer, whether an official or a representative of private enterprise. To think that just because one is dealing with a vast Socialist organisation one can afford to ignore the medium of the newspapers is to be totally unrealistic.

I only say this by way of conclusion. The Russians do not have their trade journals for purely decorative purposes; they are meant to be read and they are read, and if we can secure, by advertisements of our goods, space in Russian trade journals then we are getting very good value for our money, provided, of course, that the matter is sufficiently attractive to the would-be purchaser. I ask my right hon. Friend to reconsider his decision which, I believe, was not carefully thought out. I see my right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade sitting beside him. I trust that they will confer together and allow a wider and more prudent policy to be adopted.