HC Deb 07 March 1938 vol 332 cc1519-20
35. Mr. Parker

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether the Export Credits Department has guaranteed any credits for the export of goods to Italy during the past year; and, if so, for what value?

36. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department how much money has been guaranteed to firms under the exports credits scheme in respect of goods exported to Italy during each of the three last years?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Guarantees have been given by the Export Credits Guarantee Department in the ordinary course of its business in the last three years in connection with the export of United Kingdom goods to Italy, but it is not the practice to state the amount of the Department's commitments in respect of any particular country.

Mr. Benn

Then it is impossible for us to keep any check upon the Government if they wish to extend credits in this indirect way to Italy?

Colonel Wedgwood

Have the exports credits to Italy been remunerative, or has there been a loss to the Exchequer?

Mr. Hudson

So far as I know they are being paid off as they fall due.

Colonel Wedgwood

How much?

Mr. G. Strauss

Why is information being withheld from this House when guarantees are given, and should not the House be able to find out how much money is being lent to various countries under Government guarantee?

Mr. Hudson

The hon. Member will remember that the matter was discussed when the Bill was passing through the House last year, and that it was decided that the reasons given for witholding the information were adequate and satisfactory.

Mr. Benn

Can the right hon. Gentleman suggest any way by which this House can be informed of increased credits granted in this way to Italy?