HC Deb 02 February 1956 vol 548 cc1052-3
6. Mr. Moss

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the short-time working in motor vehicle factories in the Midlands; and what action he is taking in the interests of our export trade.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Yes, Sir, but I do not consider that the present situation in the motor industry calls for intervention by the Government. My Department is, of course, deeply interested in the export performance of the industry and will continue to promote exports whenever possible.

Mr. Moss

Is the Minister aware that among the workers in these factories grave doubts exist owing to the failure of the home market on the one hand and increasing competition in foreign markets on the other?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am aware of many of these problems, but I do not consider that a situation exists where Government intervention is called for. The motor industry has expanded largely and has considerable plans for further expansion in the future.

Captain Pilkington

Would my right hon. Friend agree that if costs continue to rise there will be considerably more short-time working?

Mr. Bowles

Has the attention of the President of the Board of Trade been drawn to the proposed 10 per cent. increase in the North Atlantic freight charges, starting on 1st April, and will not that increase make the situation to which my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Moss) refers very much worse so far as the North American market is concerned?

Mr. Thorneycroft

My attention has been called to that, but it raises rather wider issues which go beyond motor cars.