HC Deb 17 June 1965 vol 714 c862
2. Mr. Onslow

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the value of British exports of manufactured goods in 1951 and 1964 respectively, expressed in terms of 1951 prices.

Mr. Redhead

£2,167 million and about £2,900 million.

Mr. Onslow

Will the Minister of State agree that these figures, which show a considerable absolute increase in British exports over this period, are much more significant and creditable to this country than the other statistics which can be contrived to show a relative decline in the British share of total world exports, with which his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is so fond of making play, to the detriment of this country?

Mr. Redhead

The figures given, of course, imply an increase in the volume of exports between 1951 and 1964 of about one-third. It is right to acknowledge the achievements of British exporters in producing these results, while at the same time urging that, obviously, this country needs to do that much better.

Mr. Barber

In view of the fact that exports for May of this year were less than they were in May of 1964, 12 months ago, and that imports in May were an all-time record, does the hon. Gentleman agree with the Chancellor's observation a week ago that we are turning the corner, or does he think that it was a little premature to say that?

Mr. Redhead

I would regard any one month's figures as an insubstantial basis upon which to establish the long-term trend. If we take a view over the first four months of the year, we can take an encouraging view of the prospects for the future.