HC Deb 04 June 1957 vol 571 cc1076-7
49. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the renewed public concern existing regarding Her Majesty's Government's refusal to grant extended credit facilities to Poland; and whether he will now reconsider his policy in this regard.

The Prime Minister

The decision of Her Majesty's Government in this matter was stated in the answer given by my hon. Friend the Joint Tinder-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) on 12th February. Her Majesty's Government are not in a position to do more than make available to United Kingdom exporters to Poland the normal facilities of the Export Credits Guarantee Department. Under these arrangements the period of underwriting may be up to five years from the date of shipment for capital goods. This is quite extensive cover.

Mr. Donnelly

Is not the Prime Minister aware that, despite our economic difficulties, Poland is probably one of the most important political points at which our exports could be used, and that there may be a case for a special credit loan to Poland in addition to export credit guarantees? Will he not reconsider this possibility in the light of the fact that we gave £40 million to Jugoslavia at a comparable period of her history?

The Prime Minister

Yes, but I think that from the point of view of exports this system is best, and as I have said, if the terms of credit are made long enough they really carry with them many of the advantages of a loan. We have to bear in mind that for the surplus we have to invest abroad there are many claimants, and we have to try to do our duty primarily, I think, to the Commonwealth and colonial countries.

Mr. Strachey

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that in this procedure purely commercial considerations have to be taken into account? Would it not be a great pity if we missed the political opportunities which might arise here if action outside the export credits guarantee scheme could be contemplated?

The Prime Minister

Yes, but we have to balance these things, and, as I say, the political importance of some of our Commonwealth investments is very great indeed.