HC Deb 14 March 1963 vol 673 cc1517-8
28. Mr. Oram

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the total value of export contracts which have been covered by the Export Credits Guarantee Department financial guarantees extending over a longer period than five years; and what is the value of such contracts with Communist countries.

Mr. Erroll

So far, financial guarantees have been issued in connection with five contracts with a total value of just over £51 million. Only one of these has concerned a Communist country, and this involved a contract for £28 million for Yugoslavia.

Mr. Oram

The right hon. Gentleman may recall that in answering a Question of mine some time ago he indicated that E.C.G.D. guarantees were equally applicable both east and west of the Iron Curtain. Since Yugoslavia is not exactly on the other side of the Iron Curtain, does not his Answer indicate that there have been no E.C.G.D. guarantees for long-term contracts east of the Iron Curtain, and does not this also indicate that this arrangement is not working out in practice as he said it would in principle? Will he make quite sure that everything is being done to see that our facilities for East-West trade are equal to those of our competitors?

Mr. Erroll

If the hon. Member will look back to the announcement referring to financial guarantees he will see that the system is highly selective. They have to be specific types of project, and above a certain size. That is why relatively few have been successfully negotiated so far. The hon. Member's terminology in talking about "Communist countries" made it a little difficult for me to answer adequately. I did my best in the circumstances. He is mistaken in drawing the deduction that he has in his supplementary question.