HC Deb 18 June 1969 vol 785 cc460-1
12. Mr. Hall-Davis

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the three-monthly average of the visible trade balance for the three-monthly periods ending with each of the months from January to May, 1969.

Mr. Crosland

The figures were released in a Press notice issued last Thursday, and they are also published in today's Board of Trade Journal.

Mr. Hall-Davis

What is the right hon. Gentleman's assessment of the contribution made by the import deposits scheme to the containment of the level of imports during this period?

Mr. Crosland

The contribution has been a useful one, although it is not possible at the moment to quantify it.

Mr. Barnett

Would it not be better to admit that there are grave dangers, because of the United States monetary squeeze and the West German policy, of a serious effect on world trade and on our own trade figures this year, especially towards the end of the year and the beginning of next year? Is there not some urgency about having a meeting with both countries and, indeed, an international meeting, to consider the possible effects on our trade figures and on world trade generally?

Mr. Crosland

I take note of the suggestion in the latter part of my hon. Friend's question. On the prospects of world trade for the rest of this year, all our evidence is that while it will not expand at the dramatic rate at which it did last year, we should still have a reasonably healthy growth of world trade in 1969.

Sir K. Joseph

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider altering the presentation of the monthly trade figures so as to make the central figure in the eyes of the public and the Press the net outcome of current trading, visible and invisible, and using the invisible figure gross before the deduction of Government overseas expenditure because by that criterion, we were, last quarter, due to invisibles, in current trading surplus?

Mr. Crosland

There are two aspects to this. One is the separation of private invisibles from Government invisibles, and that is a point made to us by the Committee on Invisible Exports which the Government are still considering. The second aspect is whether we could publish every month a joint figure of visibles and invisibles. The difficulty is that, whereas we get the visible figures monthly, we get the invisibles for each quarter some time after the event.