Departmental Cars

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th June 1985.

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Photo of Mr Roger King Mr Roger King , Birmingham, Northfield 12:00 am, 4th June 1985

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many cars his Department has purchased over the last two years; and whether they were produced in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

I apologise for the absence of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, who is on an official visit to Denmark. Over the past two financial years—April 1983 to March 1985 —we purchased 4,411 cars and car-type utility vehicles, and 96 per cent. of this total, or 4,244 vehicles, were produced in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr Roger King Mr Roger King , Birmingham, Northfield

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a distinction between what is produced in the United Kingdom and what is manufactured in the United Kingdom? Does he agree that priority must be given in future purchasing to the United Kingdom content of vehicles?

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

Yes. We buy British vehicles whenever that is sensible, economic and consistent with our international obligations. We have a first-class record of support for the United Kingdom motor industry. I note my hon. Friend's comment about content. There is a problem and we are paying increasing attention to it

Photo of Mr Gregor Mackenzie Mr Gregor Mackenzie , Glasgow Rutherglen

What on earth is the Ministry of Defence doing with more than 4,000 cars?

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

It is a substantial Ministry.

Photo of Mr Peter Bruinvels Mr Peter Bruinvels , Leicester East

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on the superior and good example set by his Ministry in purchasing so many British cars? I wish that other Departments would follow that example. May I reinforce the view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield, (Mr. King) in saying that it is important to buy British cars with United Kingdom content?

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

Increasingly we are taking into account United Kingdom content in our purchasing.

Photo of Mr Denzil Davies Mr Denzil Davies , Llanelli

The Minister's answer was carefully drafted, and I have no doubt that he is pleased with its reception, but why is it necessary for Ministers, the top brass and top civil servants, to drive around in Ford Granadas, which are mainly, if not completely, made in West Germany? Do not officials in the Foreign Office and in almost every other Government Department ride in British-made cars?

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

When the Ford Granadas were chosen, they were considered to be the best value for money. When there is a model change in two years’ time, we shall evaluate other contenders.