HC Deb 13 November 1969 vol 791 cc612-4
Q7. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Technology and the Treasury with regard to solving the balance of payments problem; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Davidson

Since co-ordination happily exists between Government Departments, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the same co-ordination extends to leading members of the Opposition in view of their repeated attempts to denigrate the recent marked improvement in the balance of trade position by casting doubt on the accuracy of the figures?

The Prime Minister

I think that they are fully co-ordinated; they are united in only one thing and that is to knock every improvement in Britain's economic position. One of my hon. Friends referred to the figures published today. We generally agree in this House that we base ourselves not on a single month but on three months. The latest figures for the last three months, including those published today, show exports of £620 million as against £579 million three months ago. These figures will be £609 million and £589 million after allowing for factors affecting the recording. Going back to the £620 million, we are making that against £536 million six months ago, £548 million a year ago and £356 million five years ago.

Mr. Lubbock

Has the right hon. Gentleman noted the observations of the Select Committee on Science and Technology concerning the co-ordination between Government Departments over the export and re-export of nuclear reactors'? In view of the enormous potential market, will he see that the reply of the Minister of Technology to these observations is expedited?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman says, the Committee has done most valuable work. He will be aware of the extent to which the very thorough work done by it has affected Government thinking in this matter, as was shown by the statement of my right hon. Friend to the House during the summer, which very substantially accepts the basic proposals of the Select Committee. A great deal of work is still going on, and, as was stated in the Gracious Speech, we hope before long to be able to introduce legislation.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

As we are doing so well outside the Common Market, would it not be a wise precaution to withdraw the application to enter it unless by some mischance someone should take it up and act on it?

The Prime Minister

What we have shown with these export figures, which are 57 per cent. up by value for the first ten months of 1964 and 33 per cent. up by volume for the first ten months of 1964, is that we are perfectly capable of holding our own with the competition within the Common Market and gain by it.

Mr. Peyton

Is the Prime Minister aware that the concern which unites us on this side is to ensure that the credit for any progress made goes where it is due and is denied to an Administration which has done more to hamper this country than any other?

The Prime Minister

I am fully aware, and did not need the hon. Gentleman to tell me, what is the concern which unites the Opposition. Certainly it is right to pay tribute to those in in dustry who have played their part in this, but, since we have heard nothing for five years from hon. Members opposite other than that industry could not flourish under this Government and that we could not get into a balance of payments surplus in a reasonably quick period, I hope that they now realise that industry and exports are doing a great deal better under this Government than they ever did under the Conservatives.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman's point of order does not arise at this stage.

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