asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the evidence which he has received from members of the Scientific Instrument Manufacturers Association to the effect that the embargo on certain standard types of scientific instruments, by encouraging the Eastern European countries to manufacture for themselves, causes damage to the British export trade; and what action he will take.
This evidence is being examined. I must stress, however, that evidence of this nature is not the only factor which has to be taken into account in settling an internationally agreed strategic control.
In view of the mounting volume of evidence of this kind, would the Minister of State not agree that an embargo, which only stimulates countries put under it to manufacture themselves, is self-defeating? Further, will he consider immediately relaxing the controls when it is quite clear that these are the effects that the embargoes have?
We will certainly examine the evidence. The list of all types of scientific instruments covered by the embargo has been reduced in recent months from 26 to 16 items, and some important items have been taken off the list. I think the House will agree that the fact that the Soviet bloc can produce quite a number of strategic goods is no reason by itself for supplying them with more.