On the 23rd January 2013, CPS founder Lord Vinson contributed to a House of Lords discussion on UK trade.
Question from Lord Vinson: To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage export competitiveness and import substitution in view of the United Kingdom's trade current account deficit, running at £29 billion in 2011.
Lord Popat: My Lords, this Government recognise that trade is essential if we are to achieve sustainable, balanced growth in the UK economy. That is why we published a trade White Paper providing a long-term strategy for UK trade and an industrial strategy setting out a long-term approach to supporting business. It is why we increased funding to UK Trade & Investment, enabling it to double the number of small and medium-sized firms it supports from 25,000 to 50,000 by 2015.
Lord Vinson: I thank the Minister for his very considered reply and I am sure we all wish him well in his new post. Does he agree that every penny to meet this £10 billion indebtedness has to be borrowed internationally or met by the sale of national assets such as Cadbury, Northumbrian Water, BAA and others, without which the deficit would be much bigger? Would he also agree that we cannot indefinitely trade at a loss and see our borrowing pay for a million jobs in other countries, not least in the EU? Surely, we should start creating jobs at home by buying British, encouraging import substitution and preventing the pound rising to levels that make our exports uncompetitive.
Lord Popat: I thank my noble friend for endorsing my appointment and for giving me the privilege to answer, for the first time, one of his Questions. I turn to the Business Secretary's foreword to the 2011 trade White Paper, where he says that we must,
"restate the case for open markets",
"the temptation to put up trade and investment barriers"
I agree that we should take action to support domestic industries, and we are doing this through the growth review and industrial strategy, and by providing help and advice to exporters, in particular our SMEs.