§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
My Lords, this Bill, to which I ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading, is a certified Money Bill of one operative clause. It is introduced for the purpose of extending the period during which guarantees may be given up to March 31, 1940, and also to extend the period during which guarantees, including renewed guarantees, may be valid, up to March 31, 1950. The original Overseas Trade Act empowered the Board of Trade to give guarantees in connection 656 with goods wholly or partly manufactured in the United Kingdom. The amount of the guarantees outstanding was never to exceed £26,000,000, and I have to inform your Lordships that this limit has never been anything like approached. The sums for the operations of the Overseas Trade Department are voted annually by Parliament, and this year, for the fourth year in succession, a token vote only has been presented as an estimate. The receipts for premiums and fees are sufficient to cover expenses.
I may say that the Department during its existence has secured orders for £47,000,000 worth of British exports, and without loss to the taxpayer; leaving at the present moment a sum of about £1,300,000 in hand. The bulk of those orders, I am quite confident, would not have been obtained unless this Department had existed. There has been, I think, in the past, particularly among noble Lords who usually sit behind me, but who, I regret, are not in their places now, rather a feeling against this Department, and an idea that it is one that ought to be abolished. I think that would be a great mistake. His Majesty's Government consider that this Department more than justifies its existence. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Templemore.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.