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Car Imports

Volume 986: debated on Monday 16 June 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what percentages of United Kingdom markets for cars, sold at £3,000 or under and for four-wheel drive vehicles, were taken by imports in 1977, 1978 and 1979 to date, from Eastern Europe and Japan, respectively.

As my hon. Friend has the information about imports of four-wheel drive vehicles, in particular from Japan and Eastern Europe, will he not therefore understand the real threat that that poses? In the case of Eastern Europe, will he not consider some limitation? In the case of Japan, will he not make it plain that we require a longer-term agreement than the present annual agreement negotiated on an industry basis?

As my hon. Friend knows, the agreement on motor cars is negotiated between the SMMT and JAMA; the Government are not a party


Imported vehicles



United States

Other Countries



Percentage of total


Percentage of total


Percentage of total

New registrations Number

January-May :

* Including vehicles imported from Comecon countries which cannot be separately distinguished.

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Information is not available on new registrations of cars sold at £3,000 or under.

to it. However, the arrangement appears to be working to the satisfaction of those who negotiated it and the Japanese honour the commitments that they have made under that agreement. I have noticed the increase in the market for four-wheel drive vehicles, but they are included in the overall restraint figures agreed.

Is not the solution for British manufacturers to produce more four-wheel drive vehicles and to reduce the current waiting list, which in London is about 15 months?

The hon. Gentleman has a strong point. One disturbing thing that I have come across in my travels overseas is that the British four-wheel drive vehicle is more and more in danger of being priced out of the market. We must produce them more efficiently and have them available for delivery and not price ourselves out of the market.

Are cars from Eastern Europe dumped in the same way as footwear is dumped here? If so, will my hon. Friend take action about it? Further, since the Japanese take unfair measures to prevent the export of United Kingdom footwear to Japan, will my hon. Friend ensure that we can take equally unfair measures to prevent the import of their wretched cars, which are, after all, not particularly attractive items anyhow?

I do not own a Japanese car, but a growing number of people seem to find them attractive and good value. We are not complacent about cars from the Eastern European bloc, but altogether they amounted in the first four months of this year to 1·6 per cent. of our market. That is less than it was in both 1979 and 1978.

Following is the information :