HC Deb 15 October 1968 vol 770 cc198-9
Q6. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he has recently had with leaders of industry about increasing exports; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

The most recent, Sir, have been at my monthly meetings of the National Economic Development Council.

Mr. Fraser

Has my right hon. Friend discussed with industry the loss of export orders because of the failure to keep delivery dates? Could not these losses be avoided if manufacturers had the ability to deliver from stock instead of manufacturing when the order is obtained? Will he discuss both with industry and with the Chancellor of the Exchequer facilities to make stock of uniform goods available for export to meet delivery dates?

The Prime Minister

All of us would agree that the question of delivery dates, both fixing sufficiently short delivery dates and keeping them when fixed, is at least as important in winning and holding export orders as even price itself. I can confirm that this has been pressed on industrial leaders by every President of the Board of Trade certainly since the mid-1940s and is still being pressed. There is a very lively awareness of the importance of this question in industry today.

Mr. Bessell

In consultation with the President of the Board of Trade, cannot ways be found of assisting small industrial firms which are anxious to contribute to the export drive but which find the present export facilities inadequate?

The Prime Minister

We had a useful discussion on this at the meeting of N.E.D.C. last week on the basis of a very helpful paper on this question put forward by the C.B.I. A number of new ideas were put forward as well as those set out in the paper. I agree with the hon. Gentleman. My own recent meetings with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce confirm that much more can be done to help small firms which have something to sell but which do not know how to go about it.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Does the Prime Minister agree that the increasing imposition of taxation on industry and the continued credit squeeze make it difficult to stockpile expensive material for export?

The Prime Minister

There is a problem of credit and of taxation here. I do not think that it is in any sense the main inhibiting factor in meeting delivery dates for exports. The whole House will know, though I do not want to anticipate a Private Notice Question, that one of the gravest dangers to our exports and to delivery dates is unofficial strikes and, indeed, all kinds of strikes.

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