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 Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North 12:00, 1 December 1944

This Debate arises out of the Question which my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Quintin Hogg) put on 16th November, and which he was good enough to read to the House. May I say first that the issue raised is whether private individual firms in this country acting through, and no doubt encouraged by, advertising agents here, should be allocated part of our very limited resources in foreign exchange for the purpose of inserting advertisements in Russian trade journals. My hon. Friend's Question asked whether I was aware that America has already booked £60,000 worth of advertisements in Russian trade journals, and my hon. Friend repeated that statement in the course of his speech this afternoon. Now that is based on a fundamental misconception. American business men have not booked £60,000 worth or, indeed, any money's worth at all of advertisements in Russian trade journals. I have here a cutting which has come to hand from the "Wall Street Journal" of 16th October and which gives a full description of what, in fact, is the United States scheme. In the course of this article it is said that: The great bulk of this expenditure"— that is, the quarter of a million dollars to which my hon. Friend refers— will go for display space in a massive buyers' guide now being prepared by Amtorg, Soviet trading monopoly, for use of Russian purchasing agents, engineers and industrial planners. The point of the scheme in America is that Amtorg, which is a company incorporated in the United States, is to produce a catalogue on a big scale. The scheme involves no transfer whatever of any foreign exchange. The catalogue will be sent to the U.S.S.R. by Amtorg and distributed there on behalf of American industrialists. It is worth notice also that the promoters of this scheme in America have, it is stated, discouraged the makers of consumer goods because such advertising, it is explained, would be quite pointless. The scheme is to produce a catalogue of America's heavy industries on lines similar to the previous catalogues which have been produced for this purpose since 1927. I must point out at the outset that the idea that American business men are to advertise in Russian trade journals—which is the facility sought for British business men—is a fundamental misconception: I must, however, provide just a little background to this issue. The general policy of the Treasury is very strongly in favour of all steps, including advertising overseas, which will assist our export trade. In the ordinary way, every encouragement is given to firms seeking to advertise goods overseas, whether within or without the sterling area. Even where we have to part with gold or "hard" currency we are quite prepared to facilitate suitable advertising by British firms——