HC Deb 20 May 1924 vol 173 cc1982-3
9. Captain BRASS

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many commercial counsellors, secretaries, and other commercial representatives are employed, either by his Department alone or in conjunction with the Department for Foreign Affairs, in countries overseas; what is the total cost to this country of their services; whether information as supplied by them to the Department of Overseas Trade for the express benefit of British traders; and whether it is one of the duties of this Department, as stated in the catalogue of the British Industries Fair, to help the individual trader?


The total number of commercial diplomatic officers and trade commissioners is 47. The total sum provided in the Estimates for the current financial year in respect of the two services is £165,150. The answer to the remaining portions of the question is in the affirmative. In asking this question the hon. and gallant Member, perhaps, has had in mind a recent reply of mine to the effect that it was not part of the duty of the Government to secure a market for particular manufacturers. No business man, I am sure, regards himself as divested of the responsibility for finding markets for his wares, and for making his own arrangements to sell them. But it is part of the work of the Board of Trade, and notably of the Department of Overseas Trade, to supply the business world with all the knowledge that can be obtained, and especially to furnish individual traders with all possible information and facilities to assist them to do their business. I have always thought this is a highly successful development of Government action; and I shall certainly promote it to the utmost degree. There is an obvious difference between helping a man to do something, and doing it for him.

Captain BRASS

Are we to understand from the answer of the right hon. Gentleman that the policy of the Board of Trade is to try to help people to sell their wares?


Certainly. I have always said so. We endeavour to provide them with information which will enable them to do their own business better.


Is it not one of the doctrines of Socialism that the State should do everything?