HC Deb 08 February 1949 vol 461 cc251-66
Mr. Eccles

I beg to move, in page 2, line 21, to leave out "one hundred," and to insert "sixty."

This is the only Amendment we have seen fit to put down to this Bill. It is one of considerable importance. Clause 2 deals with the special guarantees. Those are the guarantees which the advisory council of business men do not find a good commercial risk. They are given entirely in the discretion of the right hon. Gentleman. At the time the Bill was introduced, this type of guarantee was subject to a limit of £60 million. In the course of the Second Reading I asked the Government how much of that—60 million was actually used, and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury replied: As a matter of fact, there is only £8 million outstanding. We are nevertheless raising the total to £100 million because we expect a considerable expansion of business under this head."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1949; Vol. 460, c. 1716.] It really does lie with the Government to give very detailed reasons why they want another £40 million when they only used £8 million out of the £60 million which they have had at their disposal for some time. Unless some very much fuller account is given than that which we had on Second Reading, I should feel exceedingly dissatisfied with the Clause as it stands. Formerly, as the President of the Board of Trade told us, these special guarantees were of a political nature. They were used to facilitate the export of arms. Roumania or Greece came to this country and said that they wished to have some rifles. They were supplied by a British manufacturer who gave credit to these countries which was insured with the Department and when the countries did not pay—Roumania to the tune of £1,250,000 and Greece to the tune of £300,000—the Department paid up. Now the President says: … there is even more need than in the past for special guarantee facilities in order to encourage trade with very many countries, the risks, whether political or otherwise, in connection with which could not be regarded as commercially insurable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1949; Vol. 460, c. 1686.] Therefore, the first big reason for which we are asked for this extra £40 million is that of trade with Eastern Europe. I want some further explanation from the President about this Iron Curtain trade and the extent to which he expects that it will be insured under this Clause. As I understand it, the £4 million of credit to Finland is already the subject of a special guarantee. On the other hand, I take it from what the President said during the Second Reading, that the £14 million of credit for the Russians is considered a commercial guarantee. Where does he expect that we shall need £50 million, £60 million or £70 million of special guarantees in these essentially difficult markets?

Fortunately, the right hon. Gentleman delivered a speech last night to the Fabian Society in which he discussed precisely this kind of trade which is to be the subject of these special guarantees. He said that there was nothing political in the trade—that we were only going to try to get the things we needed, that, if an iron curtain country tried to place orders with British manufacturers for goods which take some time to deliver, the British manufacturer would go to the Export Credits Department and insure his payment.

Let the Committee observe that this is really a second kind of Marshall Plan, a method of giving drawings to Eastern European countries. An hour ago, we were discussing the drawing rights between the Marshall countries. Without this guarantee it is quite certain that these Iron Curtain countries would not be able to place orders here. Is there nothing political in permitting this supply of goods to these countries? I consider that these trade agreements with iron curtain countries are part of the tactics of the cold war, and it is absurd for the President to say that there is nothing political in them. If we have a totalitarian Government like that of Czechoslovakia, are we to guarantee the payment by that Government of millions of pounds under this Clause? If so, we are in fact financing the continuance of a Government which is inimical to this country, and exactly the same obtains when we give credit to any of these Communist Governments. I want to know where the Foreign Office comes in, and whether they approve that the President should have this enormous power to insure credits given to those countries who are now in the cold war on the wrong side. We require a great deal more information before we pass this Clause.

I was reading this morning Article 10 in the new Anglo-Polish Agreement, where hon. Members will see the credit facilities which we are giving to the Polish Government. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us if he will be insuring them under the special guarantee? This is a very extraordinary development which is going on now. It is giving the Government the right to ensure that these countries can place millions of pounds' worth of orders here, and our manufacturers know that, if anything goes wrong politically inside the iron curtain country, they can have recourse to the British taxpayer. I say that this is an important move in the cold war, because many of the goods which we are to send to these countries, and which will help to build up Governments which are destroying liberty and enslaving the population, are wanted by markets such as Canada. The Canadians are constantly saying that they could take these manufactures from us, but we say that we must reserve them for bilateral dealings with iron curtain countries. I think some of our suppliers will very rightly ask what we are going to do under these special guarantees.

I turn now to another aspect of this matter. The President mentioned that he is going to extend the use of these special guarantees to cover fixed price contracts; that is to say, and I quote the President's own words: For instance, there are 'fixed price' contracts for capital goods requiring a very lengthy period of manufacture, for which the United Kingdom exporter desires cover against possible substantial increases in the price of materials and cost of labour between the time of signing a contract and the delivery of the finished goods to the overseas purchaser."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1949; Vol. 460, c. 1686.] Here is something new—the Export Credits Department insuring something which is not a credit. That is an entirely new form of business. Will the President tell us on what basis it is possible to write a risk that wages will not go up in the next four years or that some materials will not increase in price? Is the whole thing to be attached to a series of index numbers? My right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) in his great business, which he manages so successfully, has difficulties about the rise and fall of costs. Normally, there is an escalator clause in the contracts, but how is it possible to insure against the rise? How much of our money is to be at stake against the risk of rising wages in some manufactures and industries in the next four years? It is very peculiar business for the British Government to take on.

6.15 p.m.

Thirdly, I imagine that some of this money is wanted for what the President described as "unorthodox transactions in hard currency markets." What are they? What is the risk in a hard currency market against which an exporter desires to insure? The main risk is the insolvency of the customer, and the other risks are really not of much importance. Surely, it is not going to require £100 million of special guarantees to cover the possible insolvency of the customer, which will normally be written as a commercial risk in the British or North American markets? What are these "unorthodox transactions"? We have, somehow, to accept the fact that, at any rate, they mean £60 million; otherwise, it is absurd that that figure should be contained in the Clause as it stands.

I feel strongly about these things. On all hands, and on both sides of the House, we are preaching economy in Government expenditure, and we are saying that it is necessary throughout the whole country that people should not waste money and should not develop extravagant habits. Here we have the Government, having spent only £8 million out of £60 million, now asking us for £100 million. For these reasons, I beg to submit this Amendment.

Mr. H. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman has approached this question in a slightly suspicious mood which I find rather unworthy of him. I quite agree that this increase does require to be justified, and, though I made some small effort to do that on Second Reading, it apparently failed to satisfy the hon. Gentleman, so I will now try to make the matter clear to him.

Firstly, there is one point concerning the quotation which he made from my speech which I would like to take up. I have not got HANSARD with me, but I do not recall that, in the sentence he quoted, I referred to Eastern Europe. I thought I had in fact said at least as much in regard to the Western hemisphere as about Eastern Europe. The hon. Gentleman has, however, quite rightly deduced that there was some idea about Eastern Europe in my mind when I made the remarks which he has just quoted. He has asked me a question about that, and perhaps it is right that I should try to answer it without going too wide of this Clause.

Obviously, we cannot debate the whole series of bilateral agreements with Eastern Europe, or with anyone else, on this Clause. I have no doubt that, in a later passage than the one which the hon. Gentleman quoted, I did mention the Eastern European countries. The hon. Gentleman also said, quite rightly, that in a speech which I made outside this House last night I said that politics do not enter into our trading relations with Eastern Europe. By that I meant we are persuaded that, in our bilateral trade arrangements, there must be an economic advantage to this country. If we were considering a trade deal with Ruritania, and that trade deal did not have any economic advantage to us, we should not sign an agreement with that country merely to get some political easement or appeasement of the situation. That sort of thing used to go on before the war, but we are not doing it as part of our economic policy today.

Our economic policy in relation to Eastern Europe is entirely a function of the economic advantage to ourselves. I quite agree with the hon. Member when he says that if we are trading with countries in Eastern Europe, or, indeed, with those in South America, politics do enter into it, though not on our side. We are not going in for uneconomic agreements for the sake of some, perhaps, highly dubious political advantage. I also agree that if one enters into trade agreements with Czechoslovakia, Poland or the Soviet Union, one is dealing with countries in which the political element does enter to a very marked extent into their trade and trading organisations.

The hon. Member went on to say that this kind of trade arrangement is really a form of Marshall Aid from this country to Eastern Europe. There is certainly no foundation at all for that suggestion. For the sake of argument, if we were having a trade agreement with, I would prefer to call it, Ruritania—there is quite a number of countries who would fall under this general description—which provided for our getting, say, £20 million, or £10 million or £30 million worth of much needed grain or much needed raw materials from them, and if they were going to place orders for, roughly, an equal quantity of capital equipment in this country for delivery in one, two or three years' time, the mere fact that we were granting credit guarantee facilities for the financing of that trade would not mean that we were giving credit as such to Ruritania. It means we are giving assistance to our own manufacturers so that their money is not locked up for long periods while waiting for repayment.

Whether we are giving—to use the hon. Member's phrase—Marshall Aid to Ruritania in those circumstances would depend entirely on the speed of deliveries and on the extent to which they could purchase other goods currently. Therefore, on the question of what was happening to their sterling balances over that period, it might easily happen that, in such a trade arrangement with Ruritania, there might be £3 million, £4 million or £5 million worth of credit facilities given to manufacturers because of the necessarily slow rate of deliveries, and it might be that the Ruritanians' sterling balances were increasing by a figure of £10 million or £15 million in the first or second year. What is happening, therefore, is that, on balance, we should not be giving credit to the Ruritanians; they would be giving credit to us. That is certainly a thing that can happen, not only in Eastern Europe, but more particularly in South America.

The hon. Member went, I think, a little wide of this Clause—I do not wish to follow him very far into it—when he said that it was wanted by us for the purpose of financing some great scheme of export development to Eastern Europe at the expense of important markets in the Commonwealth, such as Canadian markets. I want to assure him right away that there is no such idea in our minds at all. I have often heard the suggestion made that we are exporting capital and engineering equipment to Russia and other European countries which is wanted by Canada. I do not know who is responsible for spreading these stories, but I want to tell the Committee that there is nothing in them at all. Only this afternoon my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply and I had a Press Conference at which Mr. Gilpin, the leader of the Engineering Mission to Canada, was present. The main purpose of that conference was to get across to all our engineering manufacturers and exporters the need for increased exports to Canada in view of the top priority character of the Canadian market.

Last year, out of a very tine total of exports of engineering equipment to the world at large, only about 2 per cent. of our total exports went to Canada. I want to see that figure very greatly increased, and so, I believe, does Canada. Of course, what has been holding us back in shipments to Canada has been the fact that, in the first place, many of our manufacturers have not been tempted to try their hand there because they are afraid of American competition, and, secondly, that very many of the Canadian purchasing agents, whether private firms, public utilities, provincial governments or municipalities, have been very slow to place orders with us, in many cases barely realising that the United Kingdom was in a position to supply.

It is not a fact that we have been exporting to Russia or other countries goods which Canada wanted, and that we have turned down their requests for such goods. If the Canadian Government, or any Power, want these goods, His Majesty's Government will certainly do everything in their power to enable British manufacturers to meet the orders, and to meet them quickly and on the best possible terms.

Mr. Osborne (Louth)

There are two points I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman. Two months ago when I was in Toronto, I came across the suggestion on many occasions that we were exporting goods to Europe which the Canadians wanted. I do not think that anyone deliberately spread that story in Canada, but I certainly came across it on many occasions. The second point I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman is whether he will emphasise to British manufacturers who, he said, are afraid to go into the Canadian market because of American competition, the fact that Canadians are just as short of American dollars as we are, and that, therefore, there is a wonderful market for them in Canada if only they will seek it out.

Mr. Wilson

When I was dealing with the point, I was doing so in connection with the reference made by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) to engineering exports, and not to supplies in general. Undoubtedly, our Canadian friends feel that we are shipping quantities of steel—very small quantities indeed—to European countries, to West, East and South American and to Commonwealth countries which the Canadians would like to have. There is nothing we should like better than to let them have it. With regard to capital goods to which the hon. Member referred, it is certainly not a fact that Canada is being starved in any way in order that bilateral agreements with other parts of the world may be implemented.

Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)

In explaining why we did not supply more engineering equipment to Canada, the right hon. Gentleman gave as one of the reasons that individual purchasers in Canada did not know that we were in a position to supply them. Will the right hon. Gentleman say whose fault that was? I realise that it was not necessarily the fault of the Government. Can he say why the engineering industry, and, perhaps, the Government, failed to let Canada know that we were in the position to supply this equipment?

Mr. Wilson

I do not want this afternoon to begin to apportion blame between manufacturers, the Government, or anyone else. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will study the Report of the Gilpin Committee on this important subject. It is being published by the Stationery Office this evening; it is 40 or 50 pages long, and deals with the point which he and the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) raised. I think he will see from the Report that the Committee have been discussing the possibility of getting over this difficult problem.

The hon. Member for Chippenham quite rightly pointed out that, so far, the maximum liability under this form of guarantee has been about £8 million as against a possible £60 million, and that we are now seeking to raise that figure to £100 million. I want to assure the Committee that we have no intention of trying to guarantee exporters against unduly hazardous or quite crazy risks, but the fact remains that either because of political uncertainty, or because of the uninsurability of certain risks on a normally acceptable basis, we need to provide a much bigger limit than we have so far done. It is a fact that a growing proportion of our export trade is now in capital equipment, very often to countries which the Advisory Council might not regard as very sound or safe commercial risks, and which involves locking up the money of the manufacturers and exporters for a year or two, or, in some cases, for three or four years ahead.

Obviously, if a higher proportion of our exports are going to these countries in the shape of capital equipment, we need a much bigger maximum liability, because £1 million spent in financing or covering capital equipment might do only half, one-third of one-quarter of what it would do if spent in financing goods which can be delivered much more quickly. If one were financing the export of textile machinery, where at the present time there is in some cases a four or five years delivery date, one might need three, four or five times the cover as in the case of financing the export of textiles to the same country. That is one main reason why we want to see these figures increased.

6.30 p.m.

I imagine it would work like this. In many cases the Department and the Advisory Council, working on a commercial basis, would decide to accept a risk up to a certain amount. When that amount has, been reached they might say either that all further liability should be taken under Clause 2 (2), the special guarantees Clause of the, Bill, or alternatively the Department might decide not to offer cover beyond that limit, in which case probably the exporters would decline to accept the contract. In other words, the hon. Member can be assured that it is not intended that all this special trade would be covered from the special guarantees. What is likely to happen is that the Advisory Council would regard it as safe to go to a certain figure. They would regard going beyond that figure as too risky and feel that it would have to be covered by the special guarantee.

The hon. Member asked about fixed price contracts and I agree with him about the difficulty of covering fixed term contracts for a long time ahead. It is a fact, however, that a number of most important exporting organisations of high repute—naturally I would not want to give their names this afternoon, but if I did give them they would be names in which I know the hon. Member would have every confidence—have on more than one occasion come to the Export Credits Guarantee Department and made it clear that in their view their chance of getting a particularly important contract with a highly important country, in this case not in Europe at all, depended on their being able to offer some kind of fixed price contract.

In the past the Export Credits Guarantee Department have worked out fixed price contracts for the benefit of such firms. I am speaking without the book on this point, but I think it is a fact that so far none have been put into effect. I may be wrong about that. Certainly these contracts have been worked out and there have been a number of inquiries from big trading organisations in this country asking the Department to work something out. It may be that that will be more frequent in the future and it may be that something can be worked out which will be satisfactory.

I am under no illusions about the difficulties any more than is the hon. Member for Chippenham, but on the other hand if we are to develop this trade, as we need to develop it, it may well be that this kind of cover will be necessary. I should certainly be willing to keep the House informed about any development of the activities of the-Export Credits Guarantee Department in this direction and I hope the hon. Member for Chippenham would wish to keep a wary eye on it by way of Questions or in any other way in which he would wish to raise the matter.

Finally, the hon. Member referred to this question of unorthodox methods of trade. In answer to the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) I have said we are trying to do something at the moment. We shall be discussing it with the industry; we have no very clear ideas of what it is going to mean, but I shall undertake to keep the House informed about any proposals we may wish to make.

Mr. Lyttelton

I think the President of the Board of Trade has been somewhat ingenuous in his explanation. I am left with very little into which I can get my teeth. First of all, he dilated, and I think rightly, upon the kind of transaction which involves the iron curtain countries, if you like that phrase, delivering to us food, grain or some imports of which we have great need against the export from this country of capital goods which naturally take a fairly long time to manufacture and export. Of course, in the particular case the export has already been made and I would not have thought that the amount of pounds sterling absorbed in this kind of guarantee would reach anything like the figure in the Clause.

After the President had given that instance he referred to the fixed price contract. I am not quite clear in my mind whether the guarantee of the escalator clause will come under this particular part of credit arrangements or whether it will come under the ordinary commercial parts. I should have thought it would come under the ordinary commercial parts. After all, the nature of these transactions is well known to hon. Members. What happens is that the engineering industry in this country, working under conditions of great uncertainty, are obliged to say to their foreign buyer, "The price which we charge you for these ten locomotives is as estimated, plus an escalator clause which would increase the price if coal went up in price." They have no means of covering themselves over coal except through Government agencies and we all know what happens with Government agencies; the price never goes down, it always go up.

We are obliged to make these contracts with foreign buyers and it is not at all uncommon in the international market for the buyer to say, "If ever I saw one, this is a pig in a poke. I do not know at what price I am buying these locomotives." These escalator clauses exist and contracts have been lost to foreign competitors who put a cap on the escalator clause saying, "Under the clause we guarantee that the price charged to the buyer will not exceed the contract price plus, perhaps, 10 per cent." This is a form of competition with which exporters are very familiar and I must say it would be highly convenient if some satisfactory means could be worked out whereby such a risk could be insured in the interests of the country as a whole.

I am not clear whether the insurance of special risks would come under the £100 million which I think we are now discussing—or, rather, which I thought we were discussing, although we appeared to cover a very wide field of economic problems towards the end of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. I am not quite clear whether it would come under that £100 million or under the ordinary £500 million we have been talking about. I should have thought it would come under the ordinary £500 million.

Mr. Wilson

Of course, if any scheme can be worked out which could be regarded as commercially practicable by the Advisory Council we should get it under the £500 million and be very glad to see it there, but it may well be that there will be schemes very much in the interests of the exporter and of this country and which normally the Advisory Council could not say, with their hands on their hearts, were a commercial risk. In those circumstances they would get into the second category and I have a feeling that a considerable number of these cases, if there are to be these cases, will be under the second category rather than the first.

Mr. Lyttelton

My coupon has succeeded in buying extraordinarily little from the President on this Clause. I suppose most of us at some time have gone to our fathers and said, "A little cash would come in very useful," to which our fathers have replied, "What do you want it for?" Sometimes, I have no doubt, our explanations have been rather unsatisfactory—under the heading of general disbursement, or something of that kind. That is rather the attitude of mind which the President of the Board of Trade adopts, except that instead of dealing with the odd fiver he is talking about a £200 million increase, in general, which we are not discussing, and an increase from £60 million to £100 million for his somewhat unorthodox transactions. I cannot quite make it out and he is giving very little explanation about it. In fact, he does not give as much explanation as the young man who went to his father for some money and, when the father said, "Wine and women I suppose?" he replied, "Well, father, I must say that my expenditure on song has not been unduly high lately."

I wish the President could have given me and my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) a little more information. I cannot see how the £100 million will be used. I hate a blank cheque, and now very much regret that on Second Reading I was congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on coming to Parliament again so soon after July. He was, after all, not just asking for one of those global authorities which are so popular with permanent officials, and are now becoming very popular with His Majesty's Ministers, but asking, as Ministers seem to do more and more, for something which, in all circumstances, will be quite sufficient to cover all their actual or potential needs.

I make one last appeal to the President to give us a little more into which we can get our teeth. The right hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food will, no doubt, support my request on this occasion that I should get a little more sustenance out of the President of the Board of Trade; otherwise my demand on her Department may become correspondingly greater.

Mr. W. Shepherd

Like my right hon. Friend I do not feel that the President has given us any convincing reasons why he wishes to increase this sum from £60 million to £100 million. My right hon. Friend said a short time ago that it was quite likely that we were receiving more from the Eastern European countries than we were actually sending to them. It is perfectly true that that is the case. In the first 11 months of last year, if the returns of the Board of Trade are to be believed, we received from the countries behind the iron curtain about £80 million worth of goods, and we sent to them only £50 million worth. Of course, our risk in those circumstances was amply covered. If that is to be the sort of risk, I cannot see where the demand for this excessive amount comes in.

The President had some ingenious idea about a great upswing in the volume of capital goods. There may be, to a limited extent. Surely, how- ever, the President is not telling us that suddenly he is to change the character of the trade of this country. At the present moment, on the basis of existing trade, we export a very substantial proportion of capital goods—from my point of view, too high a proportion of capital goods; but that is only demanding £8 million of this £60 million. Why, therefore, do we have a demand for £100 million? The only explanation to which I am driven is that there is something really wonderful and magical in the prospects of this North American idea. I do not know whether the President has been in touch with some of the commercial wizards and conceived a great idea for stimulating the trade of North America to an extent beyond our wildest dreams. If it is so, the Committee will be interested to know. Again, I say with my right hon. Friend that nothing the President has said today has really convinced us that there is any need to increase from £60 million to £100 million a guarantee which has been used up to now to an extent of only about £10 million.

Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)

On the previous occasion we were discussing this matter it was a foggy night, and we were trying to see invisible arguments about invisible exports. The President has been trying to lift the export curtain to the iron curtain countries. However, I think he has left all of us a little more perplexed, and that he might have taken longer to tell us what this special £40 million is about. As for his Ruritanian example, I am not sure whether he was saying that that is what happens when he concludes one of his agreements—that he goes to all the exporters who want to export machinery, capital goods, and so on, to Ruritania, and says, "Here is a good market; will you start exporting your goods to a particular country? If you do, facilities under this Bill will cover all the extra risks, including political risks." I am not sure whether that is the procedure which is to take place or which does take place; or whether those exporters, producers producing engineering equipment, and so on, go to the Board of Trade and say, "We want to export to Ruritania. Will you give us the necessary cover and insurance? Please will you negotiate a trade agreement with that country?"

I think that what we are really discussing—without, perhaps, an adequate opportunity for the discussion of such a subject—is a Clause the title of which properly should be "Direction of Exports." I think that what the right hon. Gentleman has told us today is extremely important. However, I think he might have told us a little more, and lifted the curtain a little more, and told us whether this machinery is to be used for turning from the export of consumer goods and capital goods to countries where we cannot get raw materials, to export to markets where we can get them. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) that before we pass this Bill, this considerable blank cheque, the President should tell us a little more of what he means.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Eccles

I cannot let this Clause pass without asking the President what sort of accounts we are to have of the expenditure of this money which, to my great regret, is now up to a limit of £100 million. The President referred to this on Second Reading, and said: Owing to the purely political character of the transactions which Parliament had in mind when the Overseas Trade Guarantees Act, 1939, was passed, trading accounts would have served no useful purpose. But with a possible change in the character of the guarantees, however"— the changes we have been discussing— it may be considered desirable to have trading accounts, in which event the Treasury would be able, under their standing powers, to direct their preparation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 2nd February, 1949; Vol. 460, c. 1687] I want a firm assurance that we are to have comprehensive accounts of the expenditure of the underwriting account and any losses that may be incurred. I hope we can have them.

Mr. Wilson

I think I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance for which he asks. In the Second Reading Debate he put his finger on a point of great importance. He treated the matter in rather more detail then than now. He pointed out that in the publications which set out all the contingent liabilities of the Government there is no record at all of the contingent liability in respect of the E.C.G.D. policy. That statement is, of course, quite correct, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman has overlooked the fact that there is a record in the Financial Accounts 1947–48, footnote (e) on page 65, which gives the outstanding liability under the Export Guarantees Acts. But he would, be quite right in complaining that that footnote referred only to commercial guarantees which are dealt with in the published trade accounts; and it is, therefore, incomplete, and does not deal with the special guarantees, about which some figures were given to him by the Economic Secretary. I think he is quite right in pressing that, with this increase in the maximum liability, and also with the greater freedom given to the Department to use the money which the Committee has been asked to vote, it is right to include a full statement of both commercial and non-commercial guarantees. I have discussed this with the Chancellor, and we have agreed that in future we shall give figures of both commercial and noncommercial guarantees in the Financial Accounts.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3, 4 and 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.