HC Deb 12 November 1945 vol 415 cc1719-20
1. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if special instructions have been issued to the commercial secretariats and consular services in foreign countries to devote special effort to the encouragement of British export trade, to promote contact with local demands and maintain contact with agencies representative of British export organisation, and transmit immediate information on potential opportunities for entry into foreign markets.

Mr. Marquand (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)

Commercial secretariats and consular officers have received instructions in that sense. Moreover, officers of the Board of Trade and of any Department, among them the Comptroller-General himself, have recently visited several markets to consider and discuss on the spot with our commercial diplomatic and consular representatives and with trade commissioners problems connected with United Kingdom export trade. In addition, many other of these officers have been recalled for consultation on these and allied problems.

Sir P. Hannon

Is the Minister in consultation with the trade organisations in this country concerned with export trade, and taking their advice; and is he satisfied that the machinery for overseas trade is adequate for the purpose of stimulating export trade?

Mr. Marquand

I am in constant consultation with organisations in this country. We have had meetings, two or three times a week, with separate industries reviewing their export problems. So far as the overseas prosition is concerned, I am not completely satisfied. It is impossible to buildup an adequate overseas service without recruiting men, and we are waiting, in some cases, for men to be discharged from the Forces in order to take up these posts.

Mr. Walter Fletcher

Will the Minister see that his Department give direct backing to representatives of business enterprises, who wish to go overseas, to take advantage of the organisation he is creating, and thus break the bottleneck which exists?

Mr. Marquand

During the last quarter, the average monthly exit of British businessmen going overseas was 1,600.

Mr. Bossom

If firms have orders from abroad will they have priority, so that they will be able to manufacture the goods ordered from them? I am referring particularly to the paper industry.

Mr. Marquand

I think that is getting rather far from the original Question.