HC Deb 29 November 1955 vol 546 cc2097-8
12. Mr. Chapman

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the main industries for which he has evidence that the export drive is flagging at the present time as a result of uncompetitive prices.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

No, Sir. Conditions vary widely, but some export business is certainly being lost in a variety of trades because prices are too high. It is vital that we should keep down our costs.

Mr. Chapman

Has not the President seen the articles in the Financial Times and elsewhere showing, for example, that our engineering industries have at the moment a price index of 103 to 104 compared with Germany's 99 to 100? Would it not be better if the Government followed a policy which would restrain wages and prices, or help people to want to restrain wages by restraining prices, so that our prices in the overseas markets would be competitive?

Mr. Thorneycroft

That raises fairly wide issues, but I would say that the principal impediment to the export trade is the condition of inflation in this country and that the prime purpose of Government policy must be to contain that inflation.