HC Deb 02 December 1965 vol 721 cc1623-4
30. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements were made by him for and during the visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret to the United States of America; and at what cost.

Mr. Jay

None, Sir. Her Royal Highness visited promotions of British goods at shops in New York and Los Angeles, and attended British fashion shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. These arrangements were not, however, made by my Department, and no costs in connection with Her Royal Highness' visit were incurred by the Board.

Mr. Hamilton

Does that Answer mean that the costs were incurred by other Departments? Can my right hon. Friend say whether there was any initiative on the part of his Department when this trip was first suggested? Or did the initiative come from elsewhere? Can he say what return we are going to get from it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and will he say whether the Labour Government are going to stop conniving at this kind of extravagant nonsense by this very expensive young lady?

Hon. Members


Mr. Jay

My hon. Friend must address questions about other Departments' expenditure to those Departments, but from the reports I have this visit was of assistance to British exports—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—in other parts of the United States, and I can assure my hon. Friend that if he had visited Amsterdam during the British Week, as I did, he would agree with me that Her Royal Highness made an immense contribution.

Mr. Hogg

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that all items of public expenditure are something for which, rightly or wrongly, the Government, and no one else, must take responsibility, and is it not highly unfortunate that backhanded attempts should be made to attack other people who themselves are not responsible for Government expenditure?

Mr. Jay

I think that my hon. Friend is justified in calling any Minister to account for expenditure for which he is responsible, but it so happened that in this case I was not responsible.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Does my right hon. Friend anticipate any increase of exports of Scotch whisky as a result of this, and will they be enough to pay the costs of the "Britannia"?

Mr. Jay

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question is "Yes", and to the second part of the question, "I do not know."