§ Mr. Alan Clark
Good progress is being made. My right hon. and noble Friend expects to announce the results of the review in the new year.
§ Mr. Cran
Does my hon. Friend agree that a strong case can be made for encouraging exporting companies to use sources of market information other than those provided 305 under the aegis of his Department, if for no other reason than that, although companies appreciate the service, they have complained about the variability and quality of the service that they receive?
§ Mr. Cryer
Would not any support scheme for exporters, which is vital in view of our massive balance of payments and trade deficit, be subject to Commission interference? Is it not particularly important that there should be export schemes to assist manufacturing industry in view of the £11 billion deficit with other EEC countries? Are not our membership of the EEC and high interest rates forced up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer sounding a death knell for yet more jobs in manufacturing industry, over and above the 2 million already destroyed by the Tory Government since 1979?
§ Mr. Clark
Straight export subsidies, as the hon. Gentleman knows, are banned under article 16 of the GATT and article 9 of the subsidies code. I admit that there is a grey area within the European Community and practices there. Right hon. and hon. Members must weigh—and this is reflected in their correspondence—the relative advantages that their constituents can sometimes derive from Community grants as producers against the threats and dangers to which they may be subjected from their Community competitors, who also benefit from them.
§ Mr. Ian Bruce
Will my hon. Friend comment on the way that his Department works with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in supporting the efforts of British embassies? Does he agree that simple measures to monitor what is needed in export markets are often more cost-effective than grand dinners and soirees, where most of the money is spent rather than on practical measures?
§ Ms. Short
The Minister will remember the terrible effect on our exports and on manufacturing employment— which is now showing in our balance of payments problems—of the recession following 1979, largely caused by high interest rates. Is he not worried that with the high interest rates that we have now, the prospect of their increasing still higher, and 1992—when, senior British industrialists predict, one in two factories will close—we shall see another mammoth recession unless the Government act on interest rates?