§ 13 and 16. Mr. E. Fletcher
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether, in view of our balance of payments problems, he will give a directive to the Bank of England that firms concentrating on exports should receive preferential treatment as regards bank advances and other facilities as compared with firms mainly concerned with the home market;
(2) what is his monetary policy directed to encouraging manufacturers to increase their export sales.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I have seen no reason to modify my request of 7th December, 1951, when the banks and accepting houses were asked to ensure the highest priority for our defence programme and for our exports.
§ Mr. Fletcher
May we take it from that reply that, in view of the restricted funds now available to banks for advances to local undertakings, it is the Government's policy that every preference should be given to exports?
§ Mr. Butler
Yes, provided it is understood that there are certain difficulties in differentiating the proportion of export activity within a particular business.
§ 18. Mr. Roy Jenkins
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is satisfied with the response of the banks to the request contained in his statement of 24th February; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
The request to the banks mentioned in my statement of 24th February was to adopt a more restrictive attitude towards finance for hire purchase. In response to this request, I understand that the banks decided to grant no new facilities for advances for the purpose of financing hire-purchase transactions and to allow no increase in 188 the existing limits of facilities available to any customers for this purpose.
This decision has been operating since early March, in conjunction with the restrictions on the terms of certain hire-purchase transactions imposed by the Board of Trade. I cannot go further at present than to say that my right hon. Friend the President and I are keeping a close watch on the operation of these restrictions.