HC Deb 01 February 1968 vol 757 cc1551-2
Q3. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister when he next proposes to lead a discussion with the National Economic Development Council on devaluation.

Q11. Mr. Hamling

asked the Prime Minister when he proposes to discuss with the National Economic Development Council the advantages to be obtained by export industries through the price advantage gained through devaluation.

The Prime Minister

I expect that the National Economic Development Council next Wednesday will continue the discussion which we had at the January meeting on these and other vitally important issues.

Mr. Marten

is the Prime Minister aware, as I am sure he is, that many British exporters have had to raise their prices very substantially since devaluation due to the increase in Corporation Tax, Selective Employment Tax, freight rates, Bank Rate—[Interruption]—this is all perfectly true. As a result, much of the value which could be obtained from devaluation is being lost. Would the right hon. Gentleman discuss with the N.E.D.C. this whole area of costs before it is too late?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the announced increase in Corporation Tax is a tax on profits; it is not an increase in costs. He will be further aware that very many of our exporters have reduced their prices by varying amounts. The hon. Gentleman will have seen the statement made by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade about price policies to be followed. I have no reason to think that a large number of exporters are not taking full advantage of the new opportunities arising from devaluation.

Mr. Maudling

Would the Prime Minister give a figure for the amount by which the advantages of devaluation have been reduced by the Government's measures in withdrawing the export rebate, and so on, and by increased costs of fuel and raw materials?

The Prime Minister

I should want notice of that question. It was accepted by Ministers at the time that there was some derogation from the full 14 per cent. and 16 per cent. respectively as a result of the abolition of the export rebate, the latest position on which the right hon. Gentleman knows. There have been many different estimates for different industries, and, since some industries will now be able to work at full capacity rather than lower capacity, this will help to lower their costs. In general, exporters who really want to get the business have shown that they can take full advantage of devaluation to adjust their prices to whatever figure seems to them to be likely to increase their export revenue and that of the nation.

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