HC Deb 08 February 1967 vol 740 cc1636-8
27. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade what increase, percentage, respectively, in volume and value of exports took place in 1966 over 1965; and, having regard to revision of the National Plan due to unattainable rates of growth in the national economy, what export performance he anticipates in 1967.

55. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the President of the Board of Trade what increase in the volume and value of exports has taken place in 1966 compared with 1965 and 1964; and what level he expects for 1967.

Mr. Jay

In 1966 exports were 3½ per cent. higher in volume and 6½ per cent. higher in value than in 1965. Between 1964 and 1966 the increases were 8½ per cent. and 14 per cent. respectively. It is not the practice to give forward estimates of exports.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman and his Ministerial colleagues are now engaged on the preparation of a second edition of the National Plan? [An HON. MEMBER: "God help us all."] Yes, God help us all. How can that second edition be prepared if the President of the Board of Trade, responsible for exports, is not prepared to give a reliable assessment of what performance should be during 1967?

Mr. Jay

Exports are now running 20 per cent. higher than in the last few months of the previous Administration. I prefer performance to forecasts.

Mrs. Ren½e Short

Will my right hon. Friend take it that we on this side compliment both him and his Department on the rise in the export trade experienced since the party opposite were in power, particularly as the increases are evident in the direction of the Common Market, E.F.T.A. and the countries of Eastern Europe? Will he repudiate the efforts of certain members of the party opposite to persuade manufacturers not to press forward with their export programmes?

Mr. Jay

I think that compliments to the Government are almost out of order at Question Time, but our various efforts may have had something to do with this success.

Mr. Barber

When he is making his forecast for exports this year, for which my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) asked, will the President of the Board of Trade bear in mind that industrial investment is falling, that profits are down, and that industrial production is now back to the same level as in October, 1964? Does not he agree that the Government's economic policy is an abject failure?

Mr. Jay

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is even more out of order than I should be if I answered that.

29. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of exports in 1966 were from nationalised industries and from the private sector of industry, respectively.

Mr. Jay

Direct exports of goods and services by the nationalised industries are estimated to account for about 3 per cent. of all exports of goods and services. In addition, the nationalised industries contribute to the exports of other industries.

Mr. Mills

Do the figures not clearly show that from the balance of payments point of view further expansion of nationalisation would be rather an expensive luxury?

Mr. Jay

No, Sir. The figures show what we all know, that Parliament decided to nationalise the public utilities rather than the manufacturing industries. If we had no electricity, we should not have many exports of any kind.

Mr. Barber

Since the Minister is making a distinction between public utilities and manufacturing industries, and since he has hitherto expressed the view that the manufacturing industries are not a suitable subject for nationalisation, does he not think that the nationalisation of steel will not make a contribution to our exports?

Mr. Jay

Unlike the party opposite, we never have a doctrinaire view of these things.