HC Deb 27 October 1952 vol 505 cc1572-4
43. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that in the motor car industry the best incentive to economy would be an increase in home production, in order to use plants to the fullest extent and so reduce costs and, therefore, export prices; and if he will, therefore, reconsider the allocation of cars for the home market.

Mr. Sandys

I am aware, of course, that the volume of output has an important bearing on costs and prices. Motor manufacturers are, at the request of the Government, endeavouring to export as many vehicles as possible. However, in view of the current restrictions in important overseas markets, the Government recognise that the export targets set may in the immediate future be difficult to achieve in full and that, in consequence, a somewhat larger proportion of the industry's output may for the time being have to be sold on the home market.

Miss Burton

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, which will be very encouraging to motor manufacturers in the Midlands, may I ask if he is aware that in the factories the only thing which has been restricting the workers from a larger output has been the shortage of materials? We are glad to hear that this matter will be dealt with insofar as increased costs may well be reduced by full employment in the industry.

Mr. Sandys

The shortage of steel has been the great difficulty, but the position is getting easier. The allocation to the motor car industry has been increased for the fourth quarter of the year and I do not believe that steel supplies will, in the near future, be a major limiting factor on the output of motor cars.

Mr. Callaghan

May I ask the Minister how many more cars this is likely to mean for the home market?

Mr. Sandys

I cannot possibly say.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Is there likely to be a further announcement on the matter? Is it being discussed with the Motor Advisory Council or has a final decision been made?

Mr. Sandys

As I explained, we still want the motor industry to export as much as possible, but in view of the recently increased difficulties caused by restrictions abroad we recognise that in the immediate future the industry will probably not be able fully to achieve its export target and, therefore, for the time being, will have to sell more on the home market. I am keeping in close touch, through the Advisory Council and by other means, with the motor car industry, and shall continue to watch the position at home and in the overseas markets.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Since steel supplies can now be increased for the fourth quarter for the motor car industry, can they not also be increased for the British Railway wagon departments, which are suffering from a severe shortage of steel?

Mr. Sandys

That is a different question.

Mr. Beswick

Will the Minister bear in mind that much of the materials and men used in the motor car manufacturing industry could be used in the aircraft manufacturing industry? Since the products of that latter industry are much more valuable than the products of the motor manufacturing industry, will the Minister see what can be done to divert materials and men into the more important aircraft manufacturing industry?

Mr. Sandys

The aircraft industry is not at the moment being held up for lack of material.