HC Deb 02 December 1958 vol 596 cc1011-3
26. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the opportunity offered by the visit of the West German trade mission, what steps he has taken to put at its disposal the assistance of his Department.

Mr. J. Rodgers

I am glad that this opportunity of encouraging our exports to West Germany has arisen. The mission are the guests of Her Majesty's Government and the Federation of British Industries. The Board of Trade is giving the visitors every assistance.

Mr. Thomas

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Board of Trade, in giving this assistance, has suggested that Wales should be included? I realise that I am referring to the next Question.

Mr. Rodgers

There is another Question later on the Order Paper on that very subject.

27. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether, in view of the desirability of increasing Welsh exports, he will invite the West German retail mission to include Wales in their fact finding itinerary; and whether he will make a statement.

32 and 33. Mr. Gower

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what steps he has taken to indicate to the West German trade mission visiting the United Kingdom officially during the first week of December, the advantages of adding a visit to Wales to its proposed visits to London, Manchester, and Leeds; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if he is aware of the concern felt by Welsh manufacturers, traders, and exporters that the proposed itinerary of the West German fact-finding trade mission, coming to Great Britain during the first week of December, does not include any visits to Wales; and what action he will take to allay this concern.

Mr. J. Rodgers

The mission asked to meet trade associations and not individual manufacturers. Visits to Manchester and Leeds were included in its programme as these cities are centres of the trade associations representing the textile industries.

Mr. Thomas

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his Department's announcement has caused great offence in Wales, that we have an unemployment problem twice that of the average for England, and that we do not think it amusing? Is he aware that we expected that the Board of Trade would encourage such trade missions as this which are seeking to increase our export trade to their countries to come to the Principality as well?

Mr. Rodgers

The list of goods in which the mission is interested is lengthy. It includes goods which are manufactured in Wales, but very few, if any, fol. which Wales is the principal centre. I should inform the hon. Gentleman, if he is no, aware of it, that we expect and hope that this mission will be followed by specialised buyers who will visit individual factories.

Dame Florence Horsbrugh

Does not my hon. Friend think that the mission will be very disappointed if no arrangements are made for it to visit Scotland?

Mr. Gower

Will my hon. Friend at least make it clear that whenever deputations of this kind come from abroad they will be given the opportunity to visit all parts of the United Kingdom, including Scotland and Wales?

Mr. Rodgers

Certainly. These particular areas were the ones which the mission chose.

Mr. Woodburn

These visits are under the tutelage of the main associations. Would the hon. Gentleman make representations to these associations that they do not monopolise all the business for he Midlands, which is already overcrowded with work?

Mr. Ellis Smith

That is not true.

Mr. Rodgers

I will certainly bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

36. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the President of the Board of Trade why a Press statement issued by his Department on 26th November, 1958, concerning the visit of West German industrialists to the United Kingdom was accompanied by a statement implying that Welsh industry does not provide for the manufacture of toys, clothing, pottery and domestic heating appliances; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. J. Rodgers

The Press statement referred to had attached to it a list of members of the mission and provisional details of their programme. These do not contain the implication attributed to them by the hon. Member.

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that if that reply is intended as an apology from the Department, it is quite inadequate, because a statement which accompanied the Press release was couched in the terms outlined in the Question? Since, however, such offence was not intended, I take the reply as an apology.

Mr. Rodgers

I can only say, as an old Member of this House once said, "Where no offence meant, none intended."