asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has had any discussions with representatives of the German Government in reference to the methods adopted by them to expand their export trade, with a view to reaching an agreement between the two countries to avoid the intense competition for markets that is now taking place?
That is a question for another Department to answer. We do take the opportunity of having informal talks as and when it is possible, in the hope that they will develop into formal negotiations later on, but I feel that the value of these informal talks would be very much diminished if all the occasions and subjects discussed were made public.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is having consultations with the trades and industries concerned as to the most effective ways of maintaining our export trade in face of the methods adopted by certain competing countries; what organisations are being consulted; and whether he will lay before the House the plans he proposes to adopt to maintain our export trade?
As my right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade said yesterday, in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Burke), discussions have already taken place with a number of industries on the possibility of meeting the difficulties they encounter in export trade by a greater co-ordination of effort. These discussions are being continued, and I am ready to consider representations on the subject from any exporting industry. The problems involved differ from industry to industry, and the method of treatment can generally best be considered in the first place by the industry concerned.
May we take it from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that these are not the maximum measures that the Government are prepared to take to deal with this important matter?
The measures, of course, deal with rather a different aspect of helping our export trades. They deal with the possibility of their helping themselves by co-ordination of their efforts.
Both my right hon. Friend and myself have taken every opportunity in speeches to bring to the notice of exporting industries the possibility, and, indeed, the desirability, of taking action of this kind. As my right hon. Friend said in reply to a question, the response has been very encouraging, and a number of discussions have been going on.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the industries concerned recognise that this is the only method by which they can combat the throat-cutting competition of totalitarian countries?
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the engineering industry is perhaps the most hurt at the moment; and will he get into touch with that industry as early as possible?
"The engineering industry" is a rather wide term. Probably an organisation of this kind would be better carried out by sections of the industry, rather than by the industry itself.