HC Deb 11 December 1956 vol 562 cc195-6
1. Mr. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the export of vehicles in September, 1956, was the lowest for that month for six years; why car exports were 30 per cent. below the level of September, 1955, and those of commercial vehicles 28 per cent. lower than last year; and whether he will make a statement on the Government's plan to reverse this process.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

The main causes of the decline in exports of motor vehicles this year have been import restrictions in some of the industry's principal export markets. More than two-thirds of the fall in September can be attributed to the Australian and New Zealand markets alone. In addition there has been intensive foreign competition in overseas markets generally. Nevertheless, in the first nine months of this year exports of commercial vehicles were only 1.8 per cent. lower than for the first nine months of 1955. The motor manufacturers are well aware of the need to increase their exports and of the willingness of the Board of Trade to give them as much help as possible.

Mr. Lewis

The Minister says that motor manufacturers are aware of the need for increased production. Can he tell us something tangible about what his Department intends to do? Because of petrol rationing, many hon. Members, including myself, have constituents who are unemployed. There will not be so many cars wanted on the home market. Surely that is a wonderful opportunity for the right hon. Gentleman to assist those manufacturers to increase exports.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that selling motor cars is a matter for the motor car industry and that no amount of Government assistance is a substitute for competitiveness in overseas markets.