asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will instruct the joint group to be set up by the Government and the nationalised industries on public sector purchasing to investigate the possibility of giving preference to firms with good export records when purchases are made for the public sector and where this has no adverse effect on the public interest.
The new group will be concerned with standardisation and variety reduction in public sector purchasing. Further progress in these fields should itself be of benefit to exports, but I do not think it would be useful to extend the group's terms of reference as suggested.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a substantial number of firms have grown large and prosperous on Government contracts and for that reason concern themselves very little with the export market when they could easily do so?
Is the Chief Secretary yet in a position to answer the question which I asked him when he made a statement on this matter as to whether there will be a separate group for local authorities and, if he is not, will he take an opportunity to let the House know fairly soon?