Motor Cars (Demand)

Oral Answers to Questions — Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th April 1976.

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Photo of Mr Hilary Miller Mr Hilary Miller , Bromsgrove and Redditch 12:00 am, 5th April 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what forecast he has made of the total demand for new cars in the United Kingdom market in 1976 and the percentage of that total that will be met by domestic production.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Minister of State (Department of Industry)

No official forecast is published. The industry estimates that the home market will be slightly above 1·2 million and that import penetration will not be more than 33 per cent.

Photo of Mr Hilary Miller Mr Hilary Miller , Bromsgrove and Redditch

Does the Minister of State agree that any shortfall in domestic production is bound to leave more scope for imports? Will he tell the House by how much production and output in the Government-assisted firms of British Leyland and Chrysler is below the forecasts on which the assistance was given?

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Minister of State (Department of Industry)

It is well above what it would have been if the Tory Party had had its way. If the Tories had their way, there would not now be a British Leyland, since they voted to destroy it. Last year British Leyland was our greatest exporter. The Opposition voted against Chrysler, too, and Chrysler is now beginning to pick up very well.

Photo of Mr Tom Litterick Mr Tom Litterick , Birmingham, Selly Oak

Is my hon. Friend aware that during the past five years the export of motor car components has doubled whilst their import has more than trebled? What steps is the Department taking to ensure that the gap that is emerging between imports and exports of motor car components is closed by those parts of the British car industry which are dependent on public funds?

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Minister of State (Department of Industry)

I am obviously ready to study any figures that my hon. Friend may put before me. The components industry is one of our most successful exporters. Last year the motor industry as a whole, including components, made a net contribution of £923 million to the balance of payments.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley , Greenwich Woolwich West

Will the Minister of State inform the House of the productivity per man in the British car industry compared with its competitors? Surely that determines the answer to the question.