HC Deb 02 February 1961 vol 633 cc1161-3
6. Mr. Wade

asked the President of the Board of Trade what new steps Her Majesty's Government propose to take to encourage and facilitate exports.

Mr. Maudling

We are constantly improving the range and quality of the services provided for British exporters. This is a continuous process.

Mr. Wade

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that mere exhortations to exporters and to the general public will not solve the problem? On the positive side, may I put two supplementary questions? Are the Government doing anything to try to achieve international agreement on export credits, since, if each exporting country tries to outbid the other in this field, this will lead to a form of economic warfare which, in the long run, will not help British exporters? Secondly, have the Government any proposals to put forward to the next meeting of G.A.T.T. with a view to achieving an all-round reduction in tariffs and thus increasing international trade?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir. I agree that mere exhortation is not enough and I hope that we are doing a good deal more than that. Concerning export credit insurance, we firmly support the Berne Union, an international organisation designed to prevent competitive extension of credit. I have endeavoured to make clear that we go into the session of G.A.T.T. determined to barter reductions in our industrial tariffs in exchange for comparable reductions from other people.

Mr. Snow

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that in answer to a question concerning exports put to him at a recent public meeting, he said that if the smaller exporter needed help, he could obtain it through private consultants? Is the President aware that these private consultants are expensive and do not really know the job, and that what is needed is local servicing at local market level?

Mr. Maudling

The answer is that there are a large number of merchant houses, confirming houses, shipping agents, and so on, who, despite what the hon. Member may say, can, in my opinion, do a very good job. I wish that more were known about their facilities.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will my right hon. Friend keep in the forefront of his mind the possibility of another Export Council, such as the European one, for trade with Japan and the Far East, an area which we have neglected in the past few years?

Mr. Maudling

I do not want to have too many Export Councils. The important thing about an Export Council is that we should get people of top quality on it and the number of such people may be limited. I do not close my mind to other new developments, but we should not have a proliferation of Councils without considering the matter closely.

24. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the President of the Board of Trade what special Government organisations are now helping firms to increase their exports.

Mr. Maudling

At home, the Department principally concerned is the Board of Trade, including the Export Credits Guarantee Department, which, through London and regional offices, provides a wide range of services designed to help the individual exporter. The Central Office of Information also helps with publicity. Abroad, there are 200 Government posts providing commercial information services to exporters. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the "Guide to British Government Services for Exporters."

25. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reduction he is making in the number of forms required to be filled in by exporting firms.

Mr. Maudling

I keep to the minimum the requirements of my Department for security and statistical purposes. Most of the forms which exporters have to fill in are required not by Her Majesty's Government but for commercial purposes or by other Governments.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Has there not been a great reduction in these forms in recent times?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir. As regards the Board of Trade, we require forms only for certain particular products. There are Customs forms, but they have been very largely reduced. In fact, I think that the annual total of forms required has been reduced by 400,000.