Motor Car Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 1956.

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Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South 12:00 am, 5th July 1956

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the quantity production manufacturers in the motor car industry are demanding that agents selling their cars give up all other products; that many small country town garages are being given ultimatums; that franchises are renewable on 1st August; and if he will now refer this matter to the Monopolies Commission.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I have received no representations on this matter, though my information is that exclusive sale arrangements are becoming more common in the motor trade. I see no grounds at present for a reference to the Monopolies Commission.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the big five, in other words, Ford, the B.M.C., Vauxhall, Rootes and the Standard groups are now demanding that their agents should give up the sale of all other types of cars? Is he further aware that the small town agents, having laid in large stocks of tools and spares, stand to lose money by this? Is he prepared to do anything about it?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

Sole agency arrangements are not an unusual feature of English commercial life. I should be quite prepared to consider the matter, and in certain circumstances it might be appropriate for reference to the Monopolies Commission, but I should not be announcing that in advance in any event.

Photo of Mr Victor Yates Mr Victor Yates , Birmingham, Ladywood

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has considered the statement sent to the Government by the British Motor Corporation concerning the trading difficulties of the motor car industry which has necessitated discharging 6,000 employees; and what action he proposes to take to obviate the difficulties specified.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I have read the Press accounts of the statement made by the British Motor Corporation. I agree that the future of this industry depends on its success in developing export markets. This demands quality products at the lowest possible costs.

Photo of Mr Victor Yates Mr Victor Yates , Birmingham, Ladywood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the difficulties facing the Austin Motor Company is that it is unable to export spare parts for Austin trucks exported to Turkey owing to exchange difficulties, and, in consequence, spare parts are being manufactured by Germany and exported to Turkey? Is this not an intolerable situation for the manufacturers, and will not the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I am always ready to look into difficulties of this kind regarding any exporting industries, but my feeling is that the difficulties of the British Motor Corporation go a good deal wider than this.

Photo of Mr Victor Yates Mr Victor Yates , Birmingham, Ladywood

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consult the National Advisory Council of the Motor Industry concerning the present crisis in the motor car industry; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now call together the leaders of the motor car industry and launch a new campaign, supported and assisted by the Government, to recapture the export markets lost in the last three years.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

The present situation in the motor car industry was discussed at the meeting of the Advisory Council on 27th June, at which I presided. The proceedings of the Council are confidential. I am satisfied that the leaders of the motor car industry fully appreciate the importance of increasing their exports.

Photo of Mr Victor Yates Mr Victor Yates , Birmingham, Ladywood

I appreciate the fact that at long last the President himself has met this Advisory Council. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, in present circumstances, it is reasonable to expect him to make a statement to the House about how far he can assist this industry after the representations made from both sides?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

An extensive debate on this matter took place only recently.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that I am trying to help him by my questions and to urge him on? Whatever he may have done in the past, would he not agree that, in present circumstances, he should take some major initiative?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would indicate what it is.

Photo of Mr George Drayson Mr George Drayson , Skipton

Regarding the promotion of exports, can my right hon. Friend say whether any progress is being made about getting our vehicles into China?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

The export of ordinary motor cars to China is altogether free from strategic control.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

If the President has to ask the Opposition what to do, why cannot he do what Sir Stafford Cripps did in the years after the war?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I hardly think it would be wise to pursue in too much detail the activities of the Socialist Government in the post-war years.