HC Deb 09 March 1938 vol 332 cc1893-4
64. Mr. George Strauss

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether in view of the great public interest in the matter, he will give an assurance that no substantial increase will be made in the credits under the exports credits scheme on exports to Italy without first informing this House?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

As the House has frequently been informed, export credits are guaranteed by the Export Credits Guarantee Department for the benefit of United Kingdom exporters, and the decision in each individual case is based solely on commercial and financial grounds. In the circumstances, I do not consider that any assurance of the kind suggested is either practicable or indeed desirable.

Mr. Strauss

Does not that mean, in fact, that it would be possible for the Department to arrange for credits amounting to millions of pounds, on good commercial grounds, in respect of goods to be exported to Italy, and that the House and the country would know nothing about it? Is that not an unsatisfactory state of affairs?

Mr. Hudson

It is clear that the credits will not be granted unless there is an effective and reasonable demand for them from the British firms concerned, and the decision will in each case be based on commercial and financial, and not on political, grounds.

Mr. Bellenger

Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House within what limits credits will be given to such undertakings?

Mr. Hudson

They will be given within the limits of commercial prudence, and will be decided by an independent advisory committee which has been set up under the terms of the Act passed last year.