asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the total sum the British Overseas Trade Board has agreed to contribute towards eligible costs under the market entry guarantee scheme; how much of this has been recovered; and what proportion of the difference he estimates will be recovered in future years.
As at 29 February the British Overseas Trade Board has agreed to advance up to £3·5 million under the market entry guarantee scheme to help finance eligible overhead costs associated with ventures to develop export markets. So far £915,000 has been paid out and £188,000 recovered in levy and guarantee payments. I am hopeful that the balance will be recovered in due course.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but can he indicate to the House when he expects to be in a position to make an announcement about the long-term future of the scheme? Does he accept that it is a valuable weapon in our fight to win export orders, and that the relatively slight cost is even smaller when compared with the export support given to competing industries in other developed countries?
I believe that my hon. Friend is right. It is a valuable scheme. As he knows, the Government's entire export promotion services are under investigation. We hope to make an announcement about the future of the scheme in the very near future.