HC Deb 19 January 1981 vol 997 cc15-6
18. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what were the values of exported manufactured goods during each of the past four years; and what are the corresponding figures for imported manufactured goods.

Mr. Parkinson

Figures on the preferred balance of payments basis are available only for the first three quarters of 1980. These show exports of manufactures at £26.3 billion and imports at £22.8 billion. With permission, I will circulate the rest of the information in the Official Report.

Mr. Wainwright

Has the Minister taken into account the fact that there is a surplus in our manufacturing industry, and that we have over 2 million unemployed? What new ideas is he promoting to encourage our manufacturing industry further to export? Will he take another look at the import system? We have a surplus of coal, textiles and boots and shoes, and imports are coming into Britain in greater quantities than are required. Do we not have greater facilities than we need for importing—facilities that are greater than those for exporting?

Mr. Parkinson

The figures that I have given the hon. Gentleman in answer to his original question are a bad basis for the assertions that he has made. Last year we sold to the rest of the world £3,500 million-worth more of manufactures than we bought. If we did as the hon. Gentleman suggests or implies and started to stop the flow of exports into Britain other countries would do the same, and as we have a surplus we should be the losers.

Mr. Adley

Will my hon. Friend confirm that, pound for pound, and job for job, the service sector is every bit as important as manufacturing industry? As his is the sponsoring Department will he say whether he has seen the recommendation sent today to the Treasury by the chairman of the British Tourist Authority? Will he consider it and make sure that he supports it?

Mr. Parkinson

I have not seen that document. I am not prepared to commit myself to supporting it before I have seen it. I usually work on the principle — as do most Ministers — that if something is good enough for my hon. Friend to associate himself with it, it is probably good enough for me.

Following is the information:

United Kingdom Visible Trade in Manufactures
Exports Bop basic £ billion Imports
1977 25.6 19.7
1978 27.7 22.7
1979 31.0 28.2

Note: Figures are given on the preferred balance of payments basis, in which the coverage and valuation of exports and imports are the same.