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Motor Cars (European Community Imports)

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the present level of imports into the United Kingdom of cars manufactured in other member States of the European Economic Community.

Detailed import figures for 1981 are not yet available. However, vehicle registrations in the period from January to October 1981 included 479,000 passenger cars assembled in other countries of the European Community.

Is not the cost of manufacture of cars by United Kingdom manufacturers substantially greater than that of competitive models assembled or made in other countries of the Community? Does that not mean that the United Kingdom car market is a highly profitable one for importers? Would not the manufacturing side of the United Kingdom motor industry do well to ponder that if it is serious in its attempt to increase its penetration of the United Kingdom car market?

Does that answer and the previous one suggest any conclusion to my right hon. Friend about the dynamic—or cold douche—effect of joining the Common Market of which we were assured by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath)?

What serious consideration has been given to the local content in cars being brought into the country? Other countries seem able to impose certain percentage levels, whereas we do not seem even to have considered the possibility seriously.

The hon. Gentleman is really asking whether the trade in motor vehicles in the European Community should be subject to national restraints on account of the degree of local content. That simply is not feasible under the requirements of the European treaties.