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Board Of Trade

Volume 728: debated on Thursday 12 May 1966

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Overseas Trade Accounts


asked the President of the Board of Trade when the Trade and Navigation Accounts and the Overseas Trade Accounts will be published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

The Overseas Trade Accounts (which replaced the Trade and Navigation Accounts last year) are being published on the twenty-first working day following the end of the month. From July onward they will be published on the nineteenth working day.

Will the Minister of State take care to ensure that the Accounts deal specifically with the contrast between British and Japanese productivity and overseas trade growth and freight facilities?

I am not sure to what extent that point is covered in the Accounts, but I will look at it.

When the Accounts are published, will they not show that the average trade deficit for the first four months of this year, which is within the knowledge of the hon. Gentleman, has been considerably worse than the average for the comparable period of the first four months of last year?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the figures have appeared today, and he will see that, successfully, the trade gap is still being cut.

Scottish Industries (Investment Grants)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will specify the particular industries in Scotland which will be eligible for the new investment grants.

I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the proposals contained in the Industrial Development Bill, which was introduced on 4th May and to the announcement which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made on 3rd May about extending the scope of the investment grants scheme to include construction.

Does the Minister not realise that my Question asks for details of specific industries? To enable industrialists to organise their productivity and exports accordingly, will he now particularise them?

I am afraid that I cannot anticipate the Second Reading debate on the Bill, which will take place next week.

South Africa


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to counter the reluctance of municipalities, or organisations and individuals, in South Africa to order and buy British.

I have no evidence that the overwhelming bulk of South African orders, whether in the public or private sector, are placed on any but straightforward commercial grounds.

Is it not very surprising that the hon. Gentleman has no evidence, when it is well known to people familiar with these matters that there is a growing reluctance in South Africa to buy British goods because of the Rhodesian situation? Will the Government try to reach a solution in order that we do not prejudice that great market for British goods?

The hon. Gentleman is exaggerating the position terribly. There may be one or two individuals who will not buy from us because they disagree with our policy, and there may be people in this country who do not buy South African goods for a similar reason. But we have no evidence that I.D.I. is influencing our trade with South Africa.

Supplementary to the hon. Gentleman's previous answer, I was going to ask to what extent it is still the policy of his party not to buy South African goods, or is it just hon. Gentlemen over there who do not do it?

United States Agricultural Produce (Imports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade how much agricultural produce, canned, frozen, dried or fresh, including fruit, is imported into the United Kingdom from the United States of America; and whether he will list these imports.

As the information requested is somewhat extensive, I will, with permission circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will the hon. Gentleman go through the list very carefully to see whether we can save dollars by increasing home production?

United Kingdom imports of agricultural produce from the United States of America Year 1965

Live animals (excluding zoo animals, dogs and cats)648
Meat and meat preparations6,723
Dairy products and eggs135
Cereals and cereal preparations60,468
Fruit and vegetables17,908
Sugar, sugar preparations and honey265
Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices and manufactures thereof772
Feeding stuff for animals and food wastes761
Miscellaneous food preparations12,917
Oil seeds, oil nuts and oil kernels6,986
Fixed vegetable oils and fats266


asked the President of the Board of Trade how much celery is imported into the United Kingdom from the United States of America; and what this costs.

Why not? Is it not ridiculous that we should spend dollars on importing celery from the United States?

I leave it to the hon. Gentleman to go through the list in the OFFICIAL REPORT to see if he can extract the cost of celery imports.

Shipbuilding (Geddes Report)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he will take to implement the Geddes Report on Shipbuilding.

I would refer to the reply given to the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) on 28th April.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the estimates and recommendations of the Report are based on the assumption, in paragraph 68, that the naval shipbuilding programme will be maintained over the next ten years? Has he had an assurance from the Secretary of State for Defence that this will be so?

Discussions with the Ministry of Defence Navy Department are continuing on the proposals of the Geddes Committee.

Export Intelligence Facilities (Aberdeen)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will site an area office of his department with export intelligence facilities in the Aberdeen area, in adition to the existing marine offices.

I have no reason for thinking that the needs of firms in the Aberdeen area for export intelligence are not fully met by the services of the Board of Trade Office in Glasgow and its District Office in Inverness. It does not seem necessary to open an additional office in Aberdeen.

I suggest that as this is an area which is going to be developed there is a need for an office in the East of Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question."] Would not the hon. Gentleman agree with that?

No, Sir. Both offices have direct access to commercial diplomatic staff at posts overseas, and Telex and telephone communications are available between all Board of Trade offices.

Cornwall (Gunnislake)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will reconsider his decision to exclude Gunnis- lake, Calstock, Callington, Saltash and Torpoint from the development area of Cornwall; and whether he will make a statement.

The economic circumstances of this part of Cornwall do not justify including it in the proposed development area.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Gunnislake, in particular, has a higher unemployment rate than any part of Cornwall? The geographical location of Plymouth is such as to make it nonsense to include Gunnislake in the Plymouth employment area. Has he not had considerable representations from the county council and other sources? In view of this, will he reconsider this absurd decision?

The situation with regard to Gunnislake is as the hon. Gentleman says, but although the rate is 10 per cent. only 60 people there are unemployed. We have these small pockets of unemployment with which to deal. They represent a special case. We think that these problems can be dealt with other than by scheduling small pockets as development areas. I think that we can deal satisfactorily with these problems, but I would be glad to discuss with the hon. Gentleman the whole of this problem in the South-West, and particularly in relation to the areas which he has mentioned.

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that flexible boundaries within development areas are needed so that areas which are in trouble can be included, and areas which have improved can be excluded?

Yes, Sir, I agree, and I have discussed this matter with the hon. Gentleman. I think that he appreciates the difficulties of scheduling such small areas.

Coastguard Station, Looe


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will now give an assurance that the coastguard station at Looe will not be closed, in view of the numbers of rescue operations involving coastguards in this area during the past five years.