§ 14. Mr. Robin F. Cook
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has for further encouraging British Railways export potential in the light of the £40 million export order recently secured by British Rail Engineering Limited for rolling stock for Kenya.
§ 22. Mr. Buchanan
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has for further encouraging British Railways export potential, in the light of the £40 million export order recently secured by Britsh Rail Engineering Limited for rolling stock for Kenya.
§ Mr. William Rodgers
The Board's achievement in Kenya is greatly to its credit and I shall do whatever I can to support further such initiatives.
§ Mr. Cook
Has my right hon. Friend taken on board the repeated statement by BREX—the British Rail export combine—and BR-Metro that unless there is more investment in British Rail there will not be a sufficient home market from which to seek export orders? Would it not be tragic if British Rail and its industries were to be excluded from growing export markets because of lack of sufficient investment at home?
§ Mr. Rodgers
In the course of my visit to Derby this week these matters were in my mind when I met senior representatives of the Board. With respect, I think that my hon. Friend makes a connection, which I find is often made but seldom justified, between home and overseas markets in all kinds of different commodities. There is a huge home market in any case for modern railway equipment. I believe that the British Railways Board can build upon that and its recent achievements in Kenya, because exports are important for the country, for industry and for employment.
§ Mr. Buchanan
My right hon. Friend has been very generous in his tributes to 1210 British Rail Engineering Ltd. Will he acknowledge the initiatives taken by the National Union of Railwaymen regarding exports of British Rail materials? Will he, in an endeavour to increase export potential, see that British Rail workshops are tooled to and kept working at the maximum, so that we can have all the rolling stock that we need to keep the railways going? Will he encourage British Rail Engineering to tool up, to invest and to proceed with its export potential?
§ Mr. Rodgers
Yes. I was impressed by British Rail's resources. I met a number of members of the NUR who are employed at the Derby works. They have first-rate equipment and are anxious to continue doing a good job by keeping the workshops full of work. It is important to them, and I shall do all that I can to help them.
§ Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson
Is the Secretary of State satisfied that British Rail has adequate risk capital to take up these jumbo-size contracts abroad? What discussions has he had with his colleagues in the Department of Trade to ensure that export credit facilities are available?
§ Mr. Rodgers
The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is that I am satisfied. I keep in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade to ensure that export credit facilities are available. It is important that British Rail should be competitive in these respects.