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asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications have been received in the past year for the export of glass cutters to China; how many applications, and to what value, have been rejected and how many approved; what was the unit cost of the goods concerned; and what were the dates on which applications for licences were received and the decisions conveyed to the exporters concerned.
One application was received on 9th August, 1956, and three others on 9th April, 1957, each for glass cutters incorporating an industrial diamond. The unit cost of the tools varied between 10s. and £1 7s. The first application was for cutters to the value of £1,000, and was approved on 19th March, 1957. The other three applications, to a value of £13,350, are still under consideration, but a decision will be taken very shortly.
Is it necessary to wait for seven or eight months—from August to March—before permission is given for the export of glass cutters? Or are they regarded as strategic weapons by the Consultative Group in Paris?
I am afraid that they are so regarded on account of the diamond, but I agree with the hon. Member that the time taken to consult other members of the China Committee was too long, and I hope that it will not be repeated.
Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that no proposals in the China Committee for altering this embargo will be accepted by the Government without giving the House a chance to express an opinion?