HC Deb 24 April 1950 vol 474 cc583-5
21. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the anxiety felt by motor vehicle builders lest an increase in the practice by motor manufacturers of exporting cars under the system known as "completely knocked down," or in an unassembled form, may lead to unemployment in the motor industry; and what action he will take to ensure that this system corresponds with the interest of all those engaged in the industry.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. John Freeman)

The industry exports as many assembled cars as possible. Some countries have placed restrictions on the entry of assembled cars, and cars must be shipped to these countries in an unassembled form if exports are to be maintained.

Mr. Edelman

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that certain firms propose extending this practice to countries where there are no barriers against assembled cars, and will he see that the whole system is kept within due bounds so as not to create unemployment in the motor industry?

Mr. Freeman

If that is so, we should certainly discourage it.

Sir Peter Bennett

Surely the Minister is aware that no manufacturer will send his vehicles C.K.D. if he can send them complete, because it provides more employment to send them complete?

Mr. Freeman

I should have thought that that was so.

Mr. Driberg

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that exporting cars in this way may be one means of helping to diminish the very serious unemployment existing now in some overseas territories, such as the West Indies Colonies, if assembling plants can be built there?

25. Mr. Gerald Williams

asked the Minister of Supply if, in view of the need to speed up business and save time, money and material in patching up very old motor cars, he will consider raising the present quota of motor cars allowed to be allotted to the home market.

Mr. J. Freeman

No, Sir. The country cannot afford the loss of exports which would result from an increase in the number of cars sold in the home market.

Mr. Williams

Does the Minister realise that time, money and material is being wasted on patching up old crocks, which is a particularly uneconomic proposition? The men repairing old crocks could be better engaged in making new cars for export.

Mr. Freeman

I realise that there is a difficulty here, but the motor car trade is almost our most stable export industry at the moment, and I think that it would be very unwise to interfere.

26. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that the limitations now imposed upon the volume of production of commercial motor vehicles unavoidably lead to increases in cost due to the overheads having to be spread upon fewer vehicles; what discussions he has had with the motor industry on this problem; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. J. Freeman

The supply of commercial vehicles to the home market has frequently been discussed by the National Advisory Council for the Motor Manufacturing Industry. I do not accept that the present restrictions on supply to the home market must necessarily lead to a fall in the industry's output. My right hon. Friend circulated a full statement on 3rd April.

Mr. Bossom

Has not the Minister discussed this with the manufacturers, and did not they confirm that it is adding to the cost of their vehicles and will add to the cost of all items carried by them?

Mr. Freeman

This has been discussed many times with the manufacturers. Any increase in cost will depend on whether the output falls.

Mr. Bossom

They nave never been given any satisfaction.

33. Mr. David Renton

asked the Minister of Supply how many new commercial motor vehicles were distributed in the United Kingdom during the financial year 1949-50; and how many of such vehicles it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to allow to be distributed during the current financial year.

Mr. J. Freeman

Approximately 120,000 vehicles were supplied to the home market in the last financial year. Decisions have not yet been taken for 1951, but if the present policy is continued into 1951, supplies in the current financial year should be limited to approximately 80,000 vehicles.

Mr. Renton

Is the Minister aware that many traders have been waiting over three years for new commercial vehicles? Bearing that fact in mind, how can it possibly be said that the supply during the past financial year was excessive?

Mr. Freeman

It is excessive in relation to the total capital investment possibilities of the country at the moment. There are disadvantages in a course such as this, but the Government believe that they are outweighed by the advantages.

Mr. Bossom

Is the Minister aware 'that something like 400,000 of these vehicles are on order at present, and that by not allowing more vehicles to be sold he is adding to the difficulties of every distributor?

Mr. Freeman

It is even more important to export them at present.