HC Deb 29 April 1965 vol 711 cc610-1
20. Mr. Sheldon

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many officers of his Department regularly visit firms; and what work they do.

Mr. Darling

Some 260 officers regularly visit firms to assist them on exports, export credits and industrial location. A similar number visit firms in the enforcement of legislation for which the Board of Trade is responsible; and a further 500 visit ships, docks and warehouses on matters concerning the safety and welfare of vessels and ships' crews.

Mr. Sheldon

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways of finding out what is happening in industry is to visit firms themselves and that consultations at the Board of Trade are not an adequate alternative? Will he agree that as the work in his Department increases he should make sure that his officers spend more of their time seeing what is happening on the spot and making the required recommendations?

Mr. Darling

I think that the service we have at the Board of Trade from these regular visits is very satisfactory. If any further improvements in this service are needed we shall certainly make arrangements for the improvements to take place.

Sir A. V. Harvey

In view of the excellent work carried out by these men and the hard day's work they put in, will the hon. Gentleman ensure that they are still given a good lunch by the firms they visit?

Sir H. Harrison

Will the Minister see that those officers who go to firms and talk about exports are closely linked with our trade attachés in foreign countries so that where they see a need for certain goods this vets circulated back?

Mr. Darling

Yes, Sir.