HC Deb 06 February 1964 vol 688 cc1315-6
12. Mr. Edelman

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development what assistance he offers in promoting the sales of British aircraft abroad; and whether he is satisfied that the facilities which he has provided for the export of British aircraft are comparable with those provided by the Governments of other countries competing in the same markets.

Mr. du Cann

Exporters can call on the services of the Export Services Branch and the Commercial Relations and Export Department of the Board of Trade, and of commercial officers and service and supply attachés at embassies and High Commissions overseas. The full support of the credit guarantee facilities of the Export Credits Guarantee Department is available. I am satisfield that all these services compare favourably with those provided by other Governments.

Mr. Edelman

Is the Minister aware that the United States Government have ordered their embassies to go all out to help the American aircraft industry and to promote sales of United States aircraft, thus supplementing the aid given by the Export-Import Bank? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that, unlike the case where the air attaché was dropped in Tokyo, at a time when the Trident order negotiations were reaching a most important point, all the resources of our embassies are employed in order to help the British aircraft industry?

Mr. du Cann

The answer to the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question is certainly "Yes". Perhaps I may call his attention to the remarks that I made in the Third Reading debate on the Export Guarantees Bill, when I said that it was entirely clear that we did not lose the first Trident order in Japan because we were unable to put up satisfactory credit terms. On credit terms we are as good as the Americans or the French, and we are always ready to match anything which anybody else may provide. As to the cost of credit, this is a complex and difficult matter. If the hon. Member will be good enough to turn up the reference which I have mentioned he will see that I am now looking into this matter myself.

Mr. Snow

Does that answer mean that the hon. Gentleman's Department was consulted by the Foreign Office before it decided to abolish the post of air attaché at Tokio? Is he aware that his Answer, at any rate to a certain extent, defines the whole question of why we lost the Trident order, in comparison with the woolly answer which we received yesterday from the Minister of Aviation?

Mr. du Cann

The point about the air attaché in Tokyo is different from the Question on the Order Paper. I will make inquiries and write to the hon. Gentleman.