Department of Overseas Trade.

National Expenditure. – in the House of Commons on 1st March 1922.

Alert me about debates like this

I turn to the Department of Overseas Trade. The Committee recommended that it should be abolished. The whole saving by its abolition would be £94,000 in the year, because they do not recommend that the people who are now working for the Department of Overseas Trade in the various countries of the world should cease to perform their functions, or that the commercial attachés in our embassies and consulates throughout the globe should be abolished. That expense will continue, and therefore the whole saving to be achieved by carrying out this recommendation would be £94,000. This is a matter which requires the most careful consideration. In the course of the last fortnight I have received the most urgent representations from the most powerful bodies of business men begging me to urge the Government not to do away with the Department of Overseas Trade. They tell me that since it was introduced they have for the first time had a real means of getting the best information from foreign countries for carrying on those trading operations on which the success of this country and its export trade depends. It is not only the traders of this country. Our people in our Dominions are equally agitated about the suggestion. I have several cablegrams in my hand.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

Not at all. I will give ray hon. Friend the information he requires. Here, from Sydney, is a cablegram from the Executive of the Australian Association of British Manufacturers, representing over 2,000 firms: We view with alarm the Geddes Committee recommendations as to the abolition of the Overseas Trade Department. We appreciate the importance and value of the services which have been rendered by the Trade Commissioners, and consider the proposal to be suicidal. We emphatically urge the continuance of the Department in the light of the need for the re-establishment of British trade in Australia. Similar cablegrams come from many other parts, and at a time when trade is in the abyss of depression, and when we ought to do all we can to help its revival, we think it would be a great misfortune to do away with the instrument which the traders of this country and those who trade with them beyond the seas, regard as a most useful link in the conduct of their operations. We are, however, going to cut down the cost of administration to the lowest possible limit, and instead of the £94,000 which the Geddes Committee proposes to save, we shall be in a position to save a sum of £48,000, the difference being £46,000.