HL Deb 04 August 1971 vol 323 cc1151-4

2.45 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government bearing in mind the present heavy imbalance in Anglo-Greek trade—

  1. (a) what, in relation to that trade, are the main opportunities, for the future, for British exporters and importers;
  2. 1152
  3. (b) whether encouragement is being given for investment by British firms in joint ventures;
  4. (c) what is their attitude towards long-term loans tied to the supply of major capital equipment.]


My Lords, the answer to the first part of my noble friend's Question is that the main opportunities for British exports to Greece are in the fields of machinery, both electrical and non-electrical; transport equipment: textile fibres, yarns and made-up articles. British imports of Greek goods consist primarily of fresh and dried fruit and vegetables, and also crude fertilisers and minerals. The amount and nature of British exports to Greece will be affected by a number of factors, such as United Kingdom membership of the European Economic Community, with which Greece has an association agreement.

In answer to the second part of my noble friend's Question, investment in Greece, whether or not for joint ventures, is treated for exchange control purposes like that in any other non-sterling area country. It is normally possible for any worthwhile investments to take place. In answer to the third part of my noble friend's Question, the full range of the Export Credit Guarantee Department's facilities is available for trade with Greece, and the E.C.G.D. will give cover for commercial loans used for the purchase of capital equipment from British manufacturers.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that detailed Answer. With regard to the first and second parts of my Question, would not my noble friend agree that there are ample opportunities in Greece regarding mining consultancy, and also regarding investment in hotel and tourist facilities? Would he also agree that Her Majesty's Government are lagging behind the Governments of France, Germany and Italy in giving Government loans and that this is to be regretted since, as I think my noble friend will agree, the Greek Public Power Corporation is this country's electrical industry's largest single potential client? Further, as my noble friend referred to the E.E.C., would he be more positive in this matter—



My Lords, with regard to the first part of my noble friend's supplementary question, I am certain that he is speaking with the very great knowledge that he always shows on these subjects. My noble friend asked about a Government loan from this country. So far as I know, and so far as my information goes, Her Majesty's Government have not been approached about such a loan. Should they be, I have no doubt that they will consider it, taking all the relevant factors into account. My noble friend was rather cut off on his third supplementary, but I think he was asking me to expand slightly on entry into the European Economic Community. Greece, as my noble friend will know, has an association agreement with the E.E.C., which was signed in 1961. The agreement would have to be re-negotiated with the members of the enlarged Community, including, of course, the United Kingdom if we join.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the best encouragement that we could give to Anglo-Greek trade would be if Greece returned to democratic government?


My Lords, I have no doubt that there is much in what the noble Lord says, but I do not think that would he us giving encouragement.


My Lords, as I was cut off previously, may I ask my noble friend whether he does not recognise that in effect Greece has now achieved stable political conditions; and as Greece is an associate member of the E.E.C., should we not now take advantage of the opportunities provided in Greece with regard to investment in that country?


My Lords, I am afraid that that is a wider question than the original.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord why we in this Parliament must conceive it our business to determine what kind of Governments other countries should have?


My Lords, I think that that, again, goes wider than the original Question.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that if British capital is involved we are concerned with the Governments of the other countries?


No, my Lords, I do not think I would agree that.