HC Deb 15 December 1975 vol 902 cc939-40
4. Mr. Stanley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the working of the Cost Escalation Insurance Scheme.

Mr. Shore

The scheme has assisted in the successful negotiation of exports totalling nearly £130 million, and a large volume of potential business is at various stages of negotiation, but I am well aware of industry's views on the need for changes in the present arrangements and as a matter of urgency I am considering them again carefully, in the lght of our experience to date and of all other relevant factors, including cost.

Mr. Stanley

Will the Secretary of State say when the review will be announced on the work of the scheme? When does he expect it to be completed? In view of his somewhat equivocal reply a few moments ago about import controls, will he at least agree that as a matter of general principle it is far better to remove our balance of payments deficit by encouraging British companies in the export market than to see the illusion of security behind import controls?

Mr. Shore

The House will agree that if we could solve our balance of payments problem through the expansion of exports, that would be the preferable solution. No one would doubt that. However, it is important to remember that it is clear that we can do that only if world trade is expanding. That is the point that we have emphasised over and over again. On the question of the scheme and the review, I hope that I shall be able to complete the review and make a statement before the Christmas Adjournment.

Mr. Powell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the only way to eliminate our current account deficit on the balance of payments is to eliminate the surplus on our capital account?

Mr. Shore

I think that there could be a relationship between the two. The right hon. Gentleman has put his proposition in a very interesting way. I shall consider it further, but at present I shall not be tempted to confirm or deny his proposal.

Mr. John Davies

When reconsidering the position of the scheme will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the French scheme, which is of a more flexible nature than ours, has had very material advantages for French exporters—advantages of a kind that we have not yet experienced?

Mr. Shore

Yes, I am aware that certain features of the French scheme are undoubtedly more generous than those that we introduced in the United Kingdom. Of course, as a consequence the French scheme is much more expensive than ours. I am certainly looking at all the relevant factors, including certain features of the French scheme.