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Motor Vehicles

Volume 893: debated on Monday 9 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what his present estimate is of the export market for British cars and commercial vehicles to the EEC in 1975 and 1976.

Official forecasts of car and commercial vehicle exports by destination are not prepared. Despite depressed overseas demand, exports of these products to the EEC in the first four months of 1975 were 17 per cent. higher by value than in the same period last year.

Does not the Minister agree that in order for the country to achieve the targets of car exports to the Continent laid down, for instance, in the Ryder Report, the Government must do something about the rate of inflation in Britain? In that connection, will he tell us what the present rate of inflation is, compared with the estimate of 221 per cent. in the Ryder Report for the year ending September?

The hon. Gentleman is well aware of the present position on the question of inflation. Our concern in motor vehicle production is to ensure that there is a level of investment, particularly in British Leyland, over which we have more direct influence, to ensure that labour productivity and capital productivity may be greatly increased. It is our firm belief that if this is done the increase that Ryder sees in exports to the EEC, from 3 per cent. to 4 per cent. of the market, in a rising market, can. and indeed will, be achieved.

Will my hon. Friend turn his attention to a far more important export question, namely, the grotesque imbalance in trade in motor cars between this country and Japan? Will he make an immediate investigation—and inform his right hon. Friend of the results of it—to determine precisely what harmful effects this is having on the British motor car industry?

As my hon. Friend will know, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd. has made an anti-dumping application in respect of Japanese car imports into this country. We are indeed reviewing that with all urgency. I ask my hon. Friend also to take into account that, although there has been a large increase—as he would say—of 88 per cent. or so in the level of Japanese imports compared with a year ago, there has been a similar marked rise in British exports to Japan of all manufactured goods.