Books (Exports)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd November 1975.

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Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham 12:00 am, 3rd November 1975

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what further action he will take in 1976 to promote the export of British books.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Waltham Forest Walthamstow

My Department's export services will be available in 1976 as they have been in earlier years to assist the industry to promote exports of British books.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

As British book exporters have to meet postal rates which are far higher than those now paid by their American rivals, and as British book exporters will have to pay yet further increased postal charges in January, what encouragement will the Minister give to the various export schemes for books that avoid the use of our postal services?

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Waltham Forest Walthamstow

I have yet to receive any evidence that overseas sales have been affected by the first slice of the increased postal charges this year. Obviously, there are many considerations involved in the purchase of books. However, I take the hon. Gentleman's point, and I know that the Book Development Council has investigated and is applying at least one method of sending books overseas without the use of overseas postal services, and I understand that it is doing so at a substantial saving. As regards our general support, I remind the hon. Gentleman that for the next year we have offered support at nine trade fairs and at least five outward missions to promote book exports.

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West

But will not my hon. Friend realise that his reply is a little complacent? Can he give no hope on the heavy imbalance charges—heavier than in almost any other country of the world—which are having a serious effect because we are the centre of the English-speaking world and send out so many books and periodicals? If help with this burden could be met by some subsidy for the Post Office by my hon. Friend's Department, we could build on the tremendous potential for increasing both categories of exports in this area, so that many periodicals now in danger of having to close down for good could be saved.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Waltham Forest Walthamstow

I take my hon. Friend's point about the imbalance charges. This is a technical matter and not one for which my Department is responsible, but I shall ensure that my hon. Friend's remarks are brought to the attention of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Industry who has special responsibility for these Post Office matters.