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Export Credits Guarantee Department

Volume 201: debated on Wednesday 15 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received about Export Credits Guarantee Department premium rates and the relative rates of the United Kingdom's principal industrial competitors.

First, may I thank my right hon. Friend for the courtesy which he showed in receiving a delegation from GEC Alsthom in my constituency? May I also thank him for agreeing to visit Rugby and Kenilworth? Is my hon. Friend aware of the growing concern among industrialists about the high premium rates of the Export Credits Guarantee Department, especially when compared with those of our overseas competitors? Is he further aware that many industrialists believe that those high premium rates will cost us business and jobs? Therefore, will my right hon. Friend meet with his opposite number in the Treasury to agree a much lower figure for the premium rates of ECGD?

I assure my hon. Friend that I very much look forward to visiting his constituency and to meeting some of the industrialists whose interests he energetically represents.

On the rates charged by the ECGD, my hon. Friend will be aware that it is necessary to strike a balance between the national interest in providing ECGD cover for capital goods exports and the interest of the taxpayer that that should not prove to be too expensive. My hon. Friend will be aware that as a result of the debt crisis, over the past few years the ECGD has accumulated a deficit of more than £4 billion which is, of course, a deficit that falls to the taxpayer.