We are now at the hour of the morning when it is reputed that human vitality is at its lowest. Certainly, my vitality is pretty low. I only hope that the Minister's vitality is even lower and that he may be driven to accepting his first Amendment today.
The Amendment is particularly relevant to a case which has been brought to my attention. All who have spoken so far have given examples of the way in which the Bill adversely affects many British companies. The case to which I refer is that of a large printing company which, some time ago, became concerned at the lack of printing facilities in England, especially for coloured brochures, most of which work is now being done on the Continent. More and more companies are now having their printing crone abroad, especially the print- ing of travel brochures, which come in duty-free and are, moreover, exempted under Schedule 1 and come in without payment of the deposit.
Because of its concern and its wish to play a part in saving some of the import cost which must be met in the printing of brochures abroad, this company looked about for a suitable photogravure machine which would do the job. Naturally, it looked for a British machine first but could not find one of the right size and quality or offered at the delivery date it wanted. Eighteen months ago, therefore, it bought a machine from a Continental country, and that machine is now coming up for delivery.
The machine costs £200,000. The company will have to pay £100,000 for the privilege of bringing in a machine intended to save the strain on our balance of payments through the cost of putting printing work overseas. When it placed the order, the company thought that it was playing a part in helping to produce a favourable balance of payments. It noted that the Economic Development Council which had made a survey of the printing industry, especially in relation to exports and imports of printing work, had pointed out that, whereas in 1958 imports of trade catalogues and advertising material totalled only £782,000, that figure had risen to £5·8 million in 1967, and it was running in the first six months of this year at nearly £3·7 million, so that it would be over £7 millions for the full year.
Here is a company which is trying to meet an obvious need. It placed an order 18 months ago for a machine, but, because of this Bill, it faces the problem of finding £100,000 for the deposit. How will it manage? The banks have said that they are not allowed to provide facilities save for a very short time. If it is able to raise the money in other ways, its expansion and capital development programmes in other directions will have to be stopped.
This kind of thing strikes the average businessman as sheer lunacy. It is a severe discouragement to businesses all over the country which, despite all the impediments and handicaps put in their way by the Government, have still been trying to play their part in developing our markets overseas and reducing our adverse balance of payments. Yet as soon as they set about it, they are clobbered by a stupid Measure of this kind.