HC Deb 02 February 1961 vol 633 cc1163-5
8. Mr. Rankin

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the effect which the present recession in the motor industry is having on his plans for expansion in Scotland.

Mr. Maudling

As far as I am aware, the plans of the motor industry for production in Scotland have not been affected by the present recession in demand. I am continuing to encourage industry to go to those parts of Scotland which have high unemployment.

Mr. Rankin

How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to create in Scotland through the use of the motor industry employment which the industry is failing to maintain in the Midlands of England? If the industry should fail him, has the President of the Board of Trade any alternative plans to fill the gap? Does he realise that, in the midst of all this, Scottish people are getting depressed because in December unemployment rose by 9,000 to a total of 81,000?

Mr. Maudling

The expansion plans of the motor industry are based on a long-term estimate of demand for motor cars which is not falsified by any short-term fluctuations.

9. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the financial loss to the United Kingdom and the distress caused by the redundancy, short-time working and suspensions of workers in the motor industry and its associated industries, what recent steps he has taken, and what further steps he proposes to take, to resolve the industrial and economic problems out of which these difficulties have arisen.

Mr. Maudling

The main cause of the difficulties in the motor industry has been the decline of exports of cars, specially to North America. The extension of the maximum repayment period under the hire-purchase regulations from two to three years, announced last week, should give the industry some help in the home market.

Mr. Hughes

With what firms and persons did the President of the Board of Trade discuss the relevant problems? If he has discovered the causes of the redundancy, as his reply indicates, what steps is he taking to remove those causes and what is the expectation and hope of the unemployed workers being taken back into employment or finding work?

Mr. Maudling

My main channel of communication on these matters is the National Advisory Council, which has employers and workers represented on it. We have taken a step recently on hire purchase to improve the home market position. The improvement in exports of British motor cars lies in the hands of employers and workpeople in the motor industry.

Mr. Edelman

Is not the right hon. Gentleman's general reply relevant to Question No. 8? Is it not a new factor that there is a recession in the North Americana continent which may vitiate against the long-term plans of the industry? In these circumstances, is not the President of the Board of Trade aware of the growing anxiety which is felt in the older established areas of the industry, such as Coventry and the Midlands generally, that the original plans for the expansion of the industry are now out of date and will merely dilute the problem instead of serving the interests of Scotland and other depressed areas?

Mr. Maudling

Certainly, there are difficulties in the North American markets. I hope that they will be a challenge to everyone in the industry to improve production, cut prices and be more competitive. Certainly, my impression is that manufacturers as a whole have no reason to depart from their long-term plans of expansion upon which these Scottish and other projects are based.

Mr. Jay

Has the Minister seen the review of the National Institute of Economic Research this week, which shows that Scotland suffered worse last year from recession than any other part of the United Kingdom? In these circumstances, is it not even more important that these expansions, including expansion of the motor industry, should go forward in Scotland?

Mr. Maudling

Yes. I quite agree.

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