HC Deb 25 February 1970 vol 796 cc1196-7
51. Mr. Eddie Griffiths

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is satisfied that the present arrangements for assisting British industry at overseas trade fairs are adequate and meet the needs of the exporters; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mason

Yes, Sir. In 1965, before the present arrangements were introduced, official support was given to only 85 events in 26 countries. Since then official support has been increased from £870,000 a year to more than £4 millions a year. In 1969 my Department supported 5,700 firms taking part in 263 events in 50 countries overseas.

Mr. Griffiths

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is there any evidence that certain manufacturers are not using these excellent facilities to develop export potential?

Mr. Mason

Not that I am particularly aware of. I think that most of them are seizing the opportunities which the Government and the Board of Trade export services in particular are giving them.

Mr. Ford

Will my right hon. Friend look urgently at the question of making extra lines of credit available and make an announcement soon concerning the Buenos Aires Fair in November?

Mr. Mason

The "B.A. '70" trade drive has been announced, and the fair is going ahead. I hope that it will prove very successful.

Sir J. Rodgers

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that these overseas fairs and shopping weeks are as effective as they might be? Will he consider setting up a committee to look into their effectiveness?

Mr. Mason

I have already looked into the question of to what extent British fairs or weeks are effective. I think that we have to use them more carefully and rather more rarely in future and manage them with greater care. I thought that British Week in Tokyo was a classic example of what can be planned and can succeed.