§ Mr. Lewis
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he is aware that, because of the closing of the Suez Canal, a number of British industries have had to re-route the transport of their exports around the Cape of Good Hope, and that firms having imports which previously 60W travelled via the Suez Canal are having to await for these to be transported around the Cape of Good Hope; what is his estimate of the additional cost of this re-routing on the price of our imports and exports, and the additional time on deliveries; and what action he proposes to take to assist British manufacturers to overcome these difficulties;
(2) if he will state for the latest convenient date, the total amount of British exports and foreign imports into Great Britain which normally were transported through the Suez Canal; and to what extent he anticipates the closing of the Canal will lose us export markets, due to the increased transport costs of our exports and the delay in these goods reaching their destination.
§ Mr. P. Thorneycroft
I am aware of the facts to which the hon. Member refers and I would refer him to the Answer which I gave on 15th November to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin).
About one-quarter by value of our exports went through the Suez Canal in the first nine months of 1956. It is not practicable to make a general estimate of the additional cost of re-routing our exports nor of the delays which will be involved. But these disadvantages we shall share with many of our competitors in the export markets affected.