HC Deb 27 February 1929 vol 225 cc1969-70

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what fee is charged in order to he put on the mailing list of his Department for the circulation of information; what information is sent in return for the fee; what is the number of firms and persons paying the fee; and whether the information supplied in this way is obtainable by firms and persons in foreign countries?

Mr. DOUGLAS HACKING (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)

The fee charged for entry on the Special Register of the Department is one guinea per annum, or in conjunction with a subscription to the Board of Trade Journal, a reduced combined fee of £2 4s. 6d. is charged. The information sent to such firms comprises details as to contracts open to tender abroad, specific inquiries from reputable firms overseas for supplies of British goods, information as to the demand for specific lines of British goods, reports as to foreign competition, and generally such information as is considered by reason of its confidential nature unsuitable for general publication. The number of subscribers at present entered on the Register is 2,057. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.


Is information regarding openings abroad given to foreign firms if they ask for it?


No, Sir.


How does the hon. Gentleman distinguish between foreign and British firms? For example, what would be the position of a large electricity undertaking, controlled by foreign capital, with an ex-Lord Chancellor of England as chairman?


I am sure the hon. and gallant Member does not expect me to answer that question, and I will not disappoint him.


asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what steps are taken to draw the attention of British firms to the services which his Department is prepared to render them respecting the goods required by foreign countries?


The means at my disposal are only limited by the necessity for economy in drawing upon public funds. Leaflets explaining the services of the Department are distributed to interested parties and are available on application. The Department works in close co-operation with the Chambers of Commerce and other bodies interested in trade, and I have received invaluable assistance from them in making known to their members the services we have to offer. Such information as may be published without detriment to British interests is supplied to the public Press. The British Industries Fair is widely advertised both at home and abroad.


Is it not only fair to the Department to say that an immense number of British firms are aware of these facilities and make full use of them now?


Yes, that is true.