72 and 73. The following questions stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. KIRKWOOD:To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to say whether the export credits advisory committee is prepared to guarantee any loans for shipbuilding orders to Russia or to any other country?To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state the terms of credits offered under the export credits scheme for heavy engineering orders placed with British firms by Continental buyers; and whether the Government is prepared to re-examine its terms with a view to securing more orders?
On a point of Order. Question No. 72, that is now down in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), on this important matter of Russian credits, was down in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn) on Tuesday. At that time the President of the Board of Trade said that he was going to make a statement on Thursday in reply to this very question. Now the hon. Gentleman is not here to put it.
I will answer these three questions together. With regard to credits for ships, His Majesty's Government, in view of all the circumstances and especially the existing glut of tonnage, consider that Government guarantees should not be given for the building or sale of ocean-going vessels for whatever country they may be destined. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has been in touch with the Soviet Trade Representative with a view to the increase of British exports to the Soviet Union. It has been arranged that the Export Credits Advisory Committee, to whom His Majesty's Government are very much indebted in this matter, will be prepared to consider sympathetically applications for guarantees in respect of orders for heavy engineering material to be placed in the near future, subject to agreement with exporters about prices, and provided that credits up to 30 months from the date of the order, including the period of manufacture, could be arranged. The Soviet Representative for his part has agreed that in this case he is prepared to regard the question of the length of credit as settled.