HC Deb 28 April 1994 vol 242 cc367-8
5. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has had about prospects for export businesses based in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Tim Smith

Recent business surveys and anecdotal evidence both suggest that the prospects for Northern Ireland's exporters are excellent. I am delighted to be able to tell the House that seven Northern Ireland companies, both large and small, have this year won the Queen's award for export.

Mr. Thurnham

Does my hon. Friend agree that the firm of F.G. Wilson Engineering in the constituency of the hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) is a worthy third-time winner of the Queen's award for exports? With over 90 per cent. of its output going to 140 different countries, is not the firm an example not only to other business in Northern Ireland but to businesses throughout the United Kingdom?

Mr. Smith

My hon. Friend is entirely right. F.G. Wilson is an outstandingly successful engineering company and it shows what can be achieved in any part of the United Kingdom. I certainly congratulate it on its third Queen's award for exports.

Mr. Beggs

The tributes of the hon. Member for Bolton North-East (Mr. Thurnham) and of the Minister to a successful exporting company will be much appreciated by both employees and management.

Will the Minister encourage courses in higher education on the appreciation of exports? Will he also encourage companies with experience to share that experience with other companies that have, as yet unrealised, export potential in Northern Ireland as a means of increasing employment opportunities?

Mr. Smith

On the hon. Gentleman's second point, the Department of Trade and Industry export advisers are there to do precisely that job and they advise companies that have no experience of exporting on overcoming some of the difficulties. On his first point, I should like to have a look at what he suggested.