asked the Secretary of State for Trade what were the values, in £ sterling, of imports and exports of road vehicles for each of the past five years.
With permission, I will publish the information in the Official Report. At current prices, exports of road vehicles increased by 33 per cent. between 1976 and 1980 and imports by 134 per cent.
Are there not tremendous opportunities for our vehicle industries if the Government will only change their policies to give much greater help to exports? When will the Government take action to help our exports surpass our imports?
The hon. Gentleman will be delighted to know that for the four months of the current year for which figures can be identified—January, February, September and October—we are showing a £13 million surplus in the business.
Is not the situation deteriorating terrifyingly? Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that in the last year for which figures are available our deficit on visible trade with the European Community was £2 billion, of which £1·3 billion was accounted for by our deficit on motor vehicles? With his long-standing and reasoned opposition to the Common Market, will the right hon. Gentleman take action over that unacceptable state of affairs?
The figures that the hon. Gentleman quotes are broadly true, but they could just as well reflect on the fortunes of our abilities in the motor trade as on our membership of the Community.
Following is the information:
United Kingdom Trade in Road Vehicles, 1976–80
Source: Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom, sac (R2) Division 78 and equivalent coverage under SITC (R1)).