HL Deb 22 January 1985 vol 459 cc103-4
Lord Auckland

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, specifically in view of the valuable contribution by small businesses to the promotion of United Kingdom exports they will arrange for the setting up of an export centre in the City of Westminster.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Lucas of Chilworth)

No, my Lords. The Government, through the British Overseas Trade Board, provide services for exporters from the Department of Trade and Industry's offices within the City of Westminster.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his helpful Answer, although I must confess that it is a little disappointing. May I first pay tribute to the work of the various chambers of commerce, and notably the Westminster chamber of commerce? Secondly, may I ask my noble friend about the possibility of retired diplomats, notably commercial counsellors, being seconded to some venue in Westminster to help small businesses, which this Government and all Governments have been rightly so keen to encourage?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for his commendation of the work of chambers of commerce. In relation to his second point, the small firms business division of the British Overseas Trade Board has upon its staff as counsellors retired business men and people who are experienced in exporting and in other fields to advise applicants.

Lord Craigton

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Westminster chamber of commerce already meets many of the requirements of my noble friend as indicated in his Question, with 3,500 members, of whom 80 per cent. are small traders interested in exports? With an export committee and about seven trade missions overseas, they are already doing a great deal of work. Is he further aware that the Westminster chamber of commerce issues certificates of origin, but has no power at the moment to issue carnets, which are the final requirement of an export industry? The London chamber of commerce and many provincial chambers have powers to issue carnets, but Westminster chamber does not. Will he please use his good offices to help the Westminster chamber of commerce with the issue of carnets?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for underlining the work of the chambers of commerce, particularly in the export area. So far as his second point is concerned, I take note of what he has to say.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, if it is not possible to accede to this request for the location of this centre in the City of Westminster, is there any other great seaport city which would be prepared to accept it?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, I do not think I can give any kind of assurance that further consideration will be given to this matter, since the offices are available in Ebury Street and also in Victoria Street, which provision I feel satisfies the need of the City of Westminster.

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