asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for altering the present rates of taxation and hire-purchase rates in relation to the motor industry.
Questions about taxation are matters for my right hon. Friend's overall Budget strategy, and the hon. Member will not expect me to comment at this time.
As a number of smaller cars are about to be launched by British manufacturers at a time when there is an alarming increase in short-time working, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider acting now to help the industry in what are difficult home and world market conditions?
My right hon. Friend is fully aware of the circumstances to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I am sure that his remarks will have been noted.
Is it not the case that unless and until the Government reflate the economy, short-time working and unemployment will increase in the motor car industry and in the country at large? Can my hon. Friend confirm or deny suggestions that the Treasury now accepts that unemployment in excess of I million this year is inevitable?
I certainly do not accept the suggestion at the end of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. Not all the difficulties of the car industry are due to macro-economic factors. My right hon. Friend is aware of my hon. Friend's comments.
When my hon. Friend is considering the aid that can be given to the motor industry, may I ask him to spare a thought for the retail distributive trade? Is he aware that the problem of short-time working in many of the industries producing consumer durable goods in Edmonton and Enfield is causing serious hardship? Will he give serious consideration to relaxing hire-purchase controls, particularly as they relate to deposits and the length of payment, because this would give a boost to employment and retail sales?
My right hon. Friend will be considering very sympathetically all the points put by my hon. Friend.