asked the President of the Board of Trade how many firms exported their goods for the first time in 1961; and what was the value of their contribution.
I regret that this information is not available.
My right hon. Friend devotes an enormous amount of time and energy to exports. Would not something like this be very valuable? Will he consult the chambers of commerce and chambers of trade, and possibly write again to the 30,000 firms he circularised in his previous campaign?
I have thought a good deal about this matter, and I doubt whether the effort involved in collecting this information would yield information of sufficient value to help the export drive. The circular letter campaign has been successful. We are engaged now in the second round. No less than 9,000 firms replied to our circulars in the first round, and 6,000 asked for information about Government services, although some were already exporters.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that answer is yet one more piece of evidence that his Department treats potential exporting companies in a very casual way? Is he further aware that he gave me almost the same answer a few months ago in connection with a small firm which might be brought into the export drive? Surely the export figures published last night should not leave him with any sense of satisfaction?
I am certainly not complacent about the export drive, but I doubt whether this particular type of information, which would be laborious to collect, would be of any practical value. By circularising firms we reach all those interested or likely to be interested in exporting. I believe that to be the best way.