HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc2014-5

We have also proposals with regard to the restoration of trade with the disorganised part of Europe. Europe was a good customer of Britain. We used to sell£180,000,000 worth of our goods to Europe; but the greater part of Europe is disorganised, and for some time, unless special steps be taken, we shall be unable to resume our trade relations with some of our important customers on the Continent of Europe. I am not referring to France or to Italy, or even to Russia; I am referring to countries like Serbia, Roumania, Poland, and parts of Austria. There are no credits established at the present moment. Although we have gigantic demands coming from these countries we cannot sell. There is no confidence. They are rich countries intrinsically, and the Government have adopted a scheme of furnishing credits to the extent of £26,000,000 as a guarantee against risks or absolute loss. We hope, as a result of the institution of these credits, that a beginning will be made to restore trade, because those countries have a good deal to sell, and all you want to do is to have a beginning of business. Once it begins, the natural course of exchange will enable you to go on. I venture to predict that on the credits we establish we shall not lose a perceptible amount, while the benefit to the trade of the country will be enormous. I hope the banking houses will be encouraged to play a large part in what should be done.