HC Deb 24 November 1949 vol 470 cc519-20
41. Mr. Collins

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in the interests of the dollar export drive, he will set up in his Department a Dollar Exports Board.

The Secretary for Overseas Trade (Mr. Bottomley)

No, Sir. My hon. Friend will be aware that a Dollar Exports Board has been set up as a body, independent of His Majesty's Government, representing British industry, commerce, banking and organised labour, to foster and help the accepted aim of increasing to the utmost exports to North America. The internal organisation of the Commercial Relations and Exports Department of the Board of Trade has been reshaped in such a way as to give the maximum help for this purpose both to the Dollar Exports Board and generally.

Mr. Collins

Is my hon. Friend aware that in a recent speech to the American Chamber of Commerce the Chairman of the Dollar Export Board said, among other things, that "politics or no politics we cannot afford the welfare State "and in many quarters this statement was regarded as coming from someone in an official position. Can my hon. Friend take steps to repudiate it, and will he say if he is satisfied with the position and, if not, what other action he proposes to take?

Mr. Bottomley

The responsibility of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is to see that exports are pushed to the fullest extent in the North American markets, and we have no reason to feel that that is not being done.

Mr. Haire

Was not the appointment of the Chairman the responsibility of the President of the Board of Trade, and in the light of the recent speech made ought not the Chairman to be asked to resign?

Mr. Bottomley

No, Sir. The appointment was not made by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Mikardo

Does my right hon. Friend feel that the function of the Board of Trade in maximising dollar exports is fulfilled by having as chief salesman a person who denigrates his employer?

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Can my hon. Friend say whether it was thought a useful method of expanding dollar sales to say to Americans that we were spending in this country on the welfare state what we could not afford?

Mr. Bottomley

I think that the Chairman of the Dollar Export Board knows the views of my right hon. Friend.