HC Deb 22 July 1970 vol 804 cc515-7
9. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade what new steps he will take to increase exports, visible and invisible, and re-exports; and if he will make a statement.

4. Mr. Maclennan

asked the President of the Board of Trade what proposals he has for the promotion of exports.

14. Mr. Barrett

asked the President of the Board of Trade what specific new export incentives he is proposing; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Noble

The Government recognise that our success in exports depends on the efforts of British industry and commerce, and we will fully support their endeavours.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that the balance of payments is now running into squally weather, aggravated by the dock strike?

Mr. William Hamilton

And a Tory Government.

Sir G. Nabarro

It is nothing to do with the Tory Government. Would my right hon. Friend particularly examine the possibility of restoring export incentives—that is, the restitution to exporters of the element of indirect taxation contained in manufactured goods exported from this country, which was scrapped so prematurely by the Labour Government?

Mr. Noble

I entirely accept my hon. Friend's view of the extreme importance of our balance of trade figures now, in the past, and perhaps for many months to come. Therefore. I shall examine with my right hon. Friends any useful suggestion to make certain that we do not miss any opportunity of improving our position.

Mr. Barnett

What advice has the right hon. Gentleman given the banks about whether they or the Government should continue the low 5½ per cent. interest rate to exporters? Is he aware that many small exporters are finding it extremely difficult to obtain this form of export incentive?

Mr. Noble

No answer has as yet been given to the banks. This problem will undoubtedly be considered with them fairly shortly.

12. Mr. Eadie

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from the motor industry concerning stimulation of exports; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Anthony Grant

None, but my right hon. Friend has today received a copy of a paper addressed to the Ministry of Technology by the motor industry on its current problems.

Mr. Eadie

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that disquiet is being voiced by the motor car industry, particularly when one has regard to the promises made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in opposition. May we take it that there has been a change of mind by the Government on this issue?

Mr. Grant

I am not aware to what change of mind the hon. Gentleman is referring because I am not certain what he has in mind. All I can tell him is that my right hon. Friend will study the paper that he has received in consultation with the Minister of Technology. My Department and the Ministry of Technology are in regular contact with the motor industry on export matters.

45. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make an official world tour in support of Great Britain's export drive; and what proposals he has for assisting in the growth of British exports.

Mr. Noble

I shall be visting a number of countries on trade matters. The aim of our commercial and export promotion policies is to assist the essential growth of British exports.

Mr. Lewis

I wanted some sort of tangible answer but I have nothing whatever in that reply. The right hon. Gentleman may be a good travelling Minister, but that will not bring us exports. What action, what programme, what policy does he intend to pursue?

Mr. Noble

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Board of Trade has a most comprehensive service to help industries which wish to export. We shall encourage them. I have answered the rest of the hon. Gentleman's question.

Mr. James Hamilton

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that when he goes to these other countries he will do as he did on a previous occasion and wear his kilt?

Mr. Noble

That depends on the weather.

Mr. Ogden

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the importance of export credit facilities in making exports possible, and will he give a clear undertaking before the recess that our export credit facilities will be no less under his Government than they were under the previous Government?

Mr. Noble

I can give no such undertaking. Conditions change considerably, and, as this Government are likely to be in power for the next 15 years, changes may well be required.

Mr. Jay

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean by that that the Government have proposals for curtailing present export credit facilities?

Mr. Noble

Certainly not. We realise that the amount of money being advanced in this way has been increasing very greatly, and as our exports expand, the money will need to increase also. I have no doubt about that. What I cannot guarantee permanently is the rate of interest.