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.
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?
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
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?
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?