Lithium Carbonate (Export Licences)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th January 1959.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East 12:00 am, 29th January 1959

asked the President of the Board of Trade why licences to export lithium carbonate to Poland are granted but not to other Sino-Soviet bloc countries.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I think there may be some misunderstanding. The only licence that has been granted for Poland relates to a small quantity of lithium carbonate worth 7s. which was included in a parcel of laboratory chemicals.

Photo of Mr Ernest Davies Mr Ernest Davies , Enfield East

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that a British firm has received an order for a considerable quantity of this material from Hungary, to be used in the manufacture of television tubes, and that the licence was refused and that the firm was informed by his Department that it could export to Poland? Is he aware that that was not very helpful? Is not it ridiculous that one member of the Soviet bloc can purchase this compound and the other cannot?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

It sounds peculiar, but the answer is that the order from Hungary was for a considerable quantity of material, which is very important in the field of nuclear fission.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

What harm can there be in importing this material for use in television tubes, and what harm can there be in exporting it for that purpose?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

It is impossible to export strategic materials under guarantees of end-use.