asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the workings of the Export Credits Guarantee Department.
Yes, Sir. In the past 12 months our export credit arrangements have been reinforced by a number of new facilities. It is my intention that the services to exporters available from ECGD should, overall, stand comparison with those of any other country.
What use is a first-class ECGD system when the Government from time to time ban exports to countries whose regimes they do not like? Cannot the hon. Gentleman realise that to be excessively doctrinaire in banning exports costs money and jobs?
I think that the hon. Gentleman is a little confused. We have banned the export of arms to certain countries. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would think that appropriate in certain cases—for example, the Communist bloc countries. We have not banned the sale of any non-arms goods to anywhere, but there are certain countries where our exports are under restricted cover—for example, because of credit risks and so on.
Why was the new ECGD preshipment finance policy announced in the Budget when none of the major details had been worked out? Will this policy require new legislation? What is the likely total that it will underwrite on a yearly basis?
The change will not need legislation. Since the final details of the new policy have not yet been worked out, I cannot give the hon. Gentleman any forcast of the likely cost. At this stage I can add nothing to the reply which I gave last week to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton). We have drawn up an outline scheme, but there are several financial problems and until our discussions with the banks are concluded—successfully, we hope—we cannot make another statement.