HC Deb 17 February 1993 vol 219 cc319-20
16. Mr. Evennett

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what initiatives his Department is taking to promote exports.

Mr. Needham

The United Kingdom exports £400 per person per year more than Japan. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that that is very good, but it is not good enough. That is one of the reasons why I launched a comprehensive policy last year, a copy of which I have sent to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Evennett

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Does he agree that export insurance cover is a component part of any export strategy? Will he confirm that his Department will continue to encourage exporters and to give them all the help and assistance that they need to do a good job for Britain?

Mr. Needham

Yes. That is why, as I said in an earlier answer, we announced a further £700 million in the autumn statement, and why the Government are determined to support our capital goods industry in its effort to double its sales over the next five years.

Mr. Bell

The House will welcome the Minister's statement that we are to try to double our exports of capital goods over the next five years, but how does he expect the House and the country to accept his claim that he supports exports when Leyland DAF, which exports £1,000 million-worth of products a year, faces closure, with 5,000 jobs in that industry and a further 15,000 jobs in subsidiary industries at risk? Does the hon. Gentleman suppose that the House will believe him?

Mr. Needham

As far as capital goods exports are concerned—which I was talking about—if one looks at power generation, airports, upstream or downstream oil and gas exploration and the whole range of industries, the United Kingdom has an endless number of companies of the highest quality, many of which are in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. Conservative Members and Ministers spend most of their time supporting those industries, and Opposition Members spend most of their time denigrating them.

Mr. Gallie

Is the Minister aware that a Scottish company won a contract in March 1992 for the supply of boiler tube to Taiwan, an export licence was rejected in April, an appeal was launched, and nine months later that appeal has not been answered? Is he aware that the Spanish have supplied the boiler tube in the mean time? Will he note that a larger contract and more jobs for Scotland are at stake? Will he do whatever he can to expedite the appeal?

Mr. Needham

Of course I will look into my hon. Friend's comment. It is the first time that he has brought it to my attention. Clearly, when it comes to export licensing, it is absolutely crucial that investigations take place to ensure that the export licence is appropriate.