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Ford Motor Company

Volume 958: debated on Monday 20 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he has asked the Price Commission to investigate prices charged by the Ford Motor Company.

Under the Price Commission Act it is for the commission to determine which individual companies should be the subject of price investigations.

For once, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it might be a good idea if the commission did investigate Ford? It might find that trying to stick to the Government's asinine policy has cost the company £400 million, which could be a justification for raising the prices of Ford motor cars.

Whether the commission investigates a price increase by Ford, were one to come along, is a matter for it, just as the rather arcane principles of economics that the hon. Gentleman holds are a matter for him.

If and when the commission looks at the Ford. Motor Company, will my right hon. Friend ask it to take into account the company's very responsible attitude in producing vehicles in this country since 1975 to run on low-lead petrol? The fact remains that the Government have not taken action to provide the low-lead petrol that Ford motor cars made in this country could use.

I know that my hon. Friend has a valuable point to make, as he and I both represent Birmingham, where the problem arises. But he knows very well, having made his point, that it is not one for me.

If the Confederation of British Industry's counter-sanctions to the Government's black list work, and Vauxhall, Chrysler and British Leyland refuse to fill the gap left by sanctions on Ford, is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention to ask Toyota and Datsun to fill the gap?

The hon. Gentleman asks me a question that includes at least three hypotheses, and on account of each I am entitled not to answer him. But I shall tell the hon. Gentleman that I do not believe that the CBI would be so irresponsible as to try to work against the Government's pay policy.

The Government's pay policy is in the interests of the economy as a whole. Despite some of the rather extreme things said at the CBI conference, if that is what it calls it, I believe that the leadership of the CBI will be a great deal more responsible than the hon. Gentleman gives it credit for.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the thoroughly irresponsible nature of the Secretary of State's answer, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.