§ 20. Mr. SMITHERS
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if he will state the amount of the present liability of His Majesty's Government in export credit schemes to Soviet Russia and to all other countries, respectively; can he state the approximate amount of Russia's favourable trade balance in this country; and, in view of the existence of this favourable trade balance, is it the policy of His Majesty's Government to continue the export credit scheme to Soviet Russia?
§ 21. Sir A. KNOX
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether, in view of the large trade credit balance held by the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics in this country, the grant of further credits to Soviet Russia under the Export Credits Act will be stopped?
§ 23. Sir W. DAVISON
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department the existing liability of the British Government in respect of export credits to exporters to Soviet Russia under the export credits guarantee scheme; and what is the length of the period for which such credits have been given?
24. Captain CAZALET
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department the total of credit granted for exports 486 to Russia at the present moment; and what is the total Government guarantee in respect of these credits?
§ Major COLVILLE (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
The total amount of credits which the Export Credits Guarantee Department had up to 31st October contracted to guarantee in respect of exports to Russia was £12,770,242. The maximum liability assumed under these contracts was £8,249,243 and bills for £4,389,313 have run off without any call being made on the Department's guarantee. The Department's liability on Russian bills at 31st October was between three and four times the current liability on all other business. These figures substantially cover the points to which my hon. Friends refer and I hope that the House will excuse me, as they have excused my predecessors, from giving precise figures of the Department's liability on particular countries at any moment, a practice which has the support of the Department's Advisory Committee. The length of credit covered by the Department's guarantees for Russian business has varied according to the nature of the goods exported, but has not exceeded two years from the date of shipment or 2½ years from the date of order. As regards the balance of trade during the year ended 31st December, 1930, imports of merchandise from Russia exceeded exports and re-exports thereto by approximately £25,000,000."With regard to the continuance of guarantees for exports to Russia I would refer my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave to a supplementary question put to me on the 12th instant by my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
In view of the £25,000,000 unfavourable balance and in view of the mandate which this House has received to restore the balance of trade, cannot the hon. and gallant Member make arrangements that in future goods shall only be exchanged against goods?
§ Major COLVILLE
I can only reply as I replied last week that this and other relevant matters are under consideration.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Can the Minister say exactly how many workpeople have been employed as a result of these credits?
25. Captain CAZALET
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what action his Department has taken in regard to export credits to Russia during the past few weeks; and will he give details of any such action?
§ Major COLVILLE
The Export Credits Guarantee Department has taken no discriminatory action in regard to export credits for Russia. The last Government, however, informed the Advisory Committee to the Department that in present circumstances they thought it better that credits for all countries should be limited to twelve months.