Rhodesia

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th February 1966.

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Photo of Sir Harwood Harrison Sir Harwood Harrison , Eye 12:00 am, 17th February 1966

asked the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the loss in revenue to the United Kingdom in a full year by Her Majesty's Government's decision preventing Lloyd's underwriters meeting their liabilities in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

I understand that there has been a loss of business. I cannot estimate what the loss to the United Kingdom might be if it were necessary to maintain the present restrictions for a full year.

Photo of Sir Harwood Harrison Sir Harwood Harrison , Eye

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is a very depressing Answer, particularly from a Department which is supposed to encourage exports? I am told that the loss amounts to £1½ million in premiums in Rhodesia, which is undermining the goodwill of Lloyd's Exchange. Is he aware that countries like South Africa intend to keep back part of their premiums as a guarantee against such action in future?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

The hon. and gallant Gentleman exaggerates the figure. This is a unique situation. There is a rebellion in Rhodesia. The situation can only be resolved when constitutional government returns to Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

Has the hon. Gentleman any figures of the extent of the default already or of the failure to renew premiums in South Africa because of what has happened in Rhodesia?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

I have no figures available now, but if the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question I will see whether they can be obtained.

Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn

Does not my hon. Friend agree that infinitely greater loss would result if the Government were to bend to rebellion?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Altrincham and Sale

Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to find out the answer to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby)? This is a very serious matter and may have consequences outside the area we are concerned with.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

As I indicated, if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorset, West will put down a specific Question I will see if I can get the answer.

Photo of Sir Harwood Harrison Sir Harwood Harrison , Eye

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the President of the Board of Trade what advice he has given British exporters who have lost, or will lose, their market in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

I would advise them to sell in other export markets. All the services of the Department are at their disposal to help them to do this.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Is not that a rather flippant Answer? Having by their policy of sanctions at a time of grave economic trouble for Britain thrown away a preferential market of at least £30 million a year, have the Government no useful advice to offer whatever?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

The hon. Gentleman is tending to exaggerate. We have received few, if any, requests for advice and have had brought to our notice very few cases of hardship to exporters resulting from the sanctions.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

Does my hon. Friend agree that there would not be this difficult situation in Rhodesia if the régime there were not getting so much help from hon. Members opposite?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

The best way to reduce any loss to British trade is to bring the rebellion to an end as quickly as possible, and this is what the Government's policy of sanctions is intended to do.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Altrincham and Sale

Will the hon. Gentleman say whether it is in order for British exporters to keep in touch with their old customers in the hope of resuming trade after the rebellion is over, or whether this is against the advice of the Board of Trade?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

The answer to the first part of the supplementary question is "Yes, Sir".