HL Deb 13 December 1962 vol 245 cc782-4

3.8 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is proposed that there will be a United Kingdom stand at the Green Week Agricultural Exhibition in Berlin in January, 1963.]


My Lords, as the noble Lord was informed in February, it is the policy of the Government to leave it to the initiative of British industry to decide for themselves, as a matter of commercial judgment, whether or not to take part in overseas trade affairs. If a reasonable number of firms were prepared to take part in the forthcoming Exhibition, the Board of Trade would have been prepared to consider helping them to organise a suitable display, but no such application has been received. In the absence of participation by industry, it would not be in accordance with the policy of the Board of Trade to organise an official display.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his Answer, and, if I may, I should like to congratulate him on what I believe is his first Answer to a Question.


Hear, hear!


I realise, as the noble Earl has reminded me, that I was given information on an earlier occasion concerning Board of Trade policy, but is the noble Earl not aware that this fair is of very considerable prestige, rather than trade, value; that there are official stands from many countries not only throughout Europe, but other parts of the world, including Israel. Morocco, Lebanon, Portugal and the United States? And, since this fair takes place in the British sector of Berlin, does he not consider that our national prestige demands that there should be at least some stand, if not a large one, representing this country at this great international agricultural fair?


My Lords, I should like, first, to thank the noble Lord for his kind remarks. I am perfectly aware that there are a number of countries represented at this fair, but I am sure the noble Lord will appreciate that it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to help in all cases of fairs as a matter of prestige. I would remind the noble Lord that the main British prestige display in Berlin is at the Berlin Industries Fair, and also that there was a British Week in Berlin in May of this year. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will feel that the interests of Britain in Berlin have not been completely forgotten.


My Lords, may I join in congratulating the noble Earl on his new appointment? I am rather disappointed with the contents of the Answer. You have a regular Board of Trade council for the trade, and you have sub-contacts by that means as well. I should be more satisfied with the Answer if I knew that the trade had been consulted about this by the Board of Trade, because the Board of Trade would have had long notice as to the coming of this fair.


In fact, the members of the industries concerned have been, and are always, informed of these forthcoming fairs. Rather than there having been any intimation of a wish to be represented, the only intimation has been that they specifically do not wish to be represented. That intimation was made by a fairly large association of manufacturers.