South Africa

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 1967.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice 12:00 am, 22nd November 1967

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the expansion of the United Kingdom's trade with South Africa.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

asked the President of the Board of Trade by what amount and percentage the fee on board value of British exports to the Republic of South Africa has increased for the period January to October during the current year compared with the corresponding period in 1966.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

Our trade with South Africa this year has expanded in line with the large general expansion of South Africa's foreign trade. In the first 10 months of 1967 our exports rose by £24 million, or 12½ per cent. over last year, despite the dock strike.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

While welcoming the fact that South Africa is now our second best customer, may I ask whether the best way of restoring our balance of payments would not be by supplying to South Africa the arms which she needs and is now getting from other countries? What is the point in having a defence agreement if we default on our moral obligation to supply arms for external martime defence?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

No, this matter has been discussed again and again and it remains the Government's firm policy not to sell arms to South Africa.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

Will the right hon. Gentleman take this occasion to express his extreme satisfaction that in this export market British exporters are doing so well? Will he indicate whether or not he thinks that this remarkable increase in trade with South Africa is totally unconnected with the difficulties in Rhodesia?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

I think that this increase in trade with South Africa is—I repeat "is"—totally unconnected with the difficulties in Rhodesia. If hon. Gentlemen opposite will examine the share of British exports in South Africa, they will find that this share is substantially the same this year as it has been for many years past. Therefore, the connection that the hon. Gentleman is suggesting simply does not exist.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

Will my right hon. Friend take every precaution not to give the impression that the constitution of this country and of the present Government is not the best that money can buy?

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

Returning to the right hon. Gentleman's answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), surely the logic of the right hon. Gentleman's answer is that exactly the same is happening to everybody else's exports, namely, that they are going through South Africa to Rhodesia. Therefore, the logic of my hon. Friend's Question is quite irrefutable.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

No, I do not think the logic is irrefutable. If the hon. Gentleman will examine the figures of the trade of this country and of other countries with South Africa in the last three or four years, he will find that this trade can be explained in terms of the normal fluctuations of world trade that have occurred in that time.