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Washing Machines

Volume 165: debated on Wednesday 17 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the percentage of the home market of washing machines supplied by imports.

Imports of washing machines are estimated to be 38 per cent. of home market sales by value in 1988—the latest full year for which figures are available.

During the past 10 years have not the Government presided over the decimation of the electrical manufacturing industry in Britain? Are they proud of the fact that the British public have to rely on foreign goods to clean their dirty linen? When will they take action to bring manufacturing of electrical goods back to Britain and allow the British public to do their washing in British washing machines? When the trade figures are published on Friday, will the Minister ponder that we have a massive import bill, while thousands of unemployed men and women are desperate to work to produce much-needed electrical goods, which would reduce the import bill?

I am pleased to say that most British people still wash their dirty washing in British machines rather than machines imported from overseas. There were high imports in the 1970s. The Government have a sound and firm economic policy that will allow companies to compete and to manufacture the things that people wish to buy. Naturally, I wish the washing machine industry and other British industries every success.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the only way in which British manufacturing can compete is by producing better goods than those produced by overseas competition? Does he share my delight that the consumer magazine Which? has judged a British washing machine, the Hotpoint 800 series, as joint best value and best buy? For once, it is clear that we can fight back with the right type of goods at the right price.

I am delighted to hear that news and I hope that my hon. Friend's message has been heard more widely, beyond the House.