HL Deb 30 April 1981 vol 419 c1272

3.9 p.m.

Lord Gainford

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 what improvements are being made in the non-price competitiveness of British exports.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, it is extremely difficult to measure the non-price competitiveness of goods. However, I believe that United Kingdom manufacturing industry is in fact improving its performance in this area and certainly the fact that design, quality, marketing, delivery and after-sales service are vitally important in gaining and maintaining export markets is one which is now much more widely understood.

Lord Gainford

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for that Answer. May I ask him whether there is any possibility of considerable improvement in British industry following such ideals?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, over the last two years the British Overseas Trade Board, which is under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Limerick, has been running a campaign on the importance of non-price factors to export performance. Conferences have been held in London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, Bradford, Manchester and Coventry, drawing on the experience of representatives of successful exporters in these localities who attribute their success to paying great attention to these non-price factors. Your Lordships may wish to know that these conferences were chaired either by my noble friend Lord Limerick or, more importantly, by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, and that they have been well attended.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, is what is meant by "non-price factors" quality and delivery?

Lord Trefgarne

Among other things, yes, my Lords.

Lord Inglewood

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether the ability of a salesman to speak a foreign language is a non-price factor?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I believe that it is certainly a factor in achieving the orders in the first place.