Motor Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:06 pm on 12th December 1983.

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Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington 5:06 pm, 12th December 1983

Exactly. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Minister came to my aid. He is more likely to have the figures than I am. He put his finger on it. It is a question not just of production but of reliability. We all know the state that the company was in just after the time when the hon. Member for Coventry, North-West was managing director. I am not accusing him, but I am saying that the British car industry was in a mess in those days. Today it is more efficient.

I do not want to spend too much time commenting on Jaguar, good as it is. It is important that every encouragement should be given to the British car market. I hope that if the British people respond in the next few years there will be a quid pro quo with regard to the component parts of cars.

The area that I represent is much concerned with the car industry, though chiefly with producing the various components for cars of all types, foreign as well as British. It is sad when we hear that some leading British manufacturers obtain many components from abroad. We must do more to encourage home products. If they are supported, they should support also the vital ancillary industries. My hon. Friend the Member for Northfield mentioned them in his speech. Again, we need to buy British. I would never suggest that people should not be competitive and should go for an overpriced product, but many of our products are equally competitive with those from abroad, and manufacturers should make a special effort to get British components. That is an integral and important part of the scene. If the British car industry succeeds, the components industry should succeed.

There will be a contracted industry in future. Inevitably, it will remain smaller than it was in the time referred to by the hon. Member for Dagenham. The industry can be successful and contribute to the national economy in the remaining years of the century. There is a new sense of realism from the point of view of both the management and the work force. Long may that continue. That is not merely because a chill wind of unemployment has been blowing throughout western Europe in the past four or five years but because it was realised that the British car industry was overstaffed and not run efficiently, and at last the industry has got round to putting its house in order. There is still some way to go, but, with luck, the industry will be able to take on the competition, whether it comes from Japan or the EC. It will co-operate with the EC. There are many multinational companies that produce on the continent as well as in this country. By doing so, they will still have an assured future.