Skip to main content

Video Recorders And Tapes

Volume 35: debated on Monday 17 January 1983

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will take steps to encourage the manufacture of television video recorders and tapes in the United Kingdom.

I share the hon. Member's concern that the United Kingdom production of video tape recorders has only recently commenced. My Department was able to offer assistance for that project and stands ready to help other new ventures in this field and in the manufacture of video cassettes. We have already taken steps to ensure that potential investors in this sector are fully aware of the Government assistance that is available.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he recognise that the extent to which we have become more and more dependent upon imports of high technology goods of this nature is an extremely alarming aspect of the British economy? Were not about 2 million video tape recorders imported into the country last year, giving us the highest number of videos per household in the world?

I confirm that about 2 million video tape recorders were imported into Britain last year and that we certainly have the highest penetration of usage of any country in the world. We are clearly concerned that last year none was made in this country, but next year at least 200,000 will be made as a joint venture between a Japanese company, Thorn-EMI and AEG Telefunken at a factory in the south of England.

Is my hon. Friend aware that Fidelity Radio, in the London area, manufactures television video recorders? Would it not be a good thing if we heard more of that company and less of the Japanese? Does he agree that the Fidelity mark is as good as any mark that is imported?

Yes, indeed. At the moment Fidelity is the only domestic manufacturer of video tape recorders, and it makes very good ones.

In view of the ease with which the Japanese were able to pirate the 3D camera, which was developed by Timex in Dundee, does the Minister agree that steps should now be taken by the Government to try to break the monopoly that Japan has over such high fidelity products to regain and to build up jobs here?

Basically, video tape recorder technology is Japanese, with the exception of the Philips equipment, and it is up to them to decide which companies to license. We stand ready to assist companies in Britain that want to enter licence agreements with Japanese companies. Indeed, later this week my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be discussing with various Japanese companies the possibility of further investment in this country. We are already the recipient of the largest flow of overseas Japanese investment in manufacturing plants.

Do we not now import more Japanese video recorders by value than Japanese cars? Even under the scheme mentioned by the Minister, shall we not be lucky to have 5 per cent. of our home market in domestically produced video recorders next year? If so, should not the Government take a positive attitude on import substitution and on the creation of jobs in this country in this fast growing technology rather than simply say that it will all come right in the end? Must they not take a positive attitude towards creating such an industry if we are to survive as a technologically advanced country?

Yes, and we have a positive attitude. We have a whole series of measures to encourage investment in this country by high technology companies. In fact, this morning I opened a robotics factory in Shropshire. That is an American investment. We have similar support for the video recorder industry. If the hon. Gentleman is asking me to employ similar measures to those of the French, who route imports through Poitiers, I must tell him that such policies would be self-defeating. Sony has already said that, as a result of that, it will not build a factory in France. I remind the House that behind the video recorders sold in Britain those are about 20,000 shops that sell video cassettes, and that about 15 million to 20 million video cassettes are manufactured in Britain. That would not happen if we imposed import controls.