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Republic of South Africa (Trade)

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th March 1968.

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Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry 12:00 am, 13th March 1968

asked the President of the Board of Trade what consultations he has had with the British National Exports Council with a view to promoting trade with the Republic of South Africa; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

There is continuous consultation with the B.N.E.C. Area Committee for Southern Africa with a view to expanding our exports of non-military goods.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

In view of the immense economic potential of this market and its likely political stability, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that in this instance there is a case for a specific representation on his part to underline the importance he and his Department attach to this market?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

The B.N.E.C. Area Committee for Southern Africa is perfectly well seized of the importance of this market as a whole, as is the Board of Trade. Subject to the ban on military goods, it is certainly a market which we want to see developed.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that in the debate on arms exports, the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) that ordinary trade with South Africa was of doubtful morality, was not repudiated by the Front Bench, though Ministers were asked to repudiate it? Will he make it perfectly clear it is the Government's policy to encourage and not discourage, this valuable trade?

Photo of Mr Alex Lyon Mr Alex Lyon , City of York

On a point of order. The argument, as I recollect it, was not that it was of doubtful morality but that it was—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. That is a point of debate, not of order.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

I regret that I did not have the pleasure of hearing my hon. Friend's speech on that occasion, but I have before me a quotation from the winding-up speech of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State, which made it perfectly clear that the Government wished to develop normal commercial and trading relations with South Africa.