Commercial Vehicles

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th January 1988.

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Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley 12:00 am, 13th January 1988

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what figures he has for the level of exports and imports of light commercial vehicles in the first half of 1987.

Photo of Mr Alan Clark Mr Alan Clark , Plymouth, Sutton

I have run off the dial, so the House should be prepared for some extemporisation in the answer.

The value of exports in the first half of 1987 was £61 million; the figure for imports was £148 million. These figures represent an improvement in the balance of trade of some £30 million over the comparable period for 1986.

Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley

Is it not true that many of the problems suffered by the commercial vehicle industry were caused by Government meddling in the 1960s and 1970s, which forced factories to go to uneconomic parts of the country and which forced Leyland Trucks to cross-subsidise Austin Morris cars? Is it not also true that there was poor management and appalling labour relations? Is it not encouraging that under the more profitable economic climate which the Goverment have helped to produce our commercial vehicle industry is beginning to produce better results?

Photo of Mr Alan Clark Mr Alan Clark , Plymouth, Sutton

I agree with my hon. Friend. I regretted it very much when Leyland Trucks, which was one of the finest truck makers in the world at that time, lost its independence. It has taken some time to effect the recovery which is now so clearly evident in the figures, which show, as I said, an improvement of some £30 million over last year.