HC Deb 17 February 1970 vol 796 cc189-90
13. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will offset the effect of the steel price rise in the already depressed home market for cars by relaxing hire-purchase conditions on cars and reducing the purchase tax; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

No, Sir.

Mr. Roberts

In view of the urgency of this matter to the industry, would my right hon. Friend consider or explore the possibility of some degree of relaxation tied to the idea of exporting a laid-down proportion of total output, with a strict warning to the industry that, if the proportion exported fell below that figure, hire-purchase conditions would be toughened?

Mr. Jenkins

This matter was fully debated and explained by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology and my hon. Friend the Minister of State last week—more fully explained and debated than I would attempt to do today. As for the longer term matters, I consider all these propositions. But the proposition that one should fix an export target and, if not attained, one should then shrink the whole market, is a matter which has certain difficulties as well as certain attractions.

Mr. Eddie Griffiths

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, with the recent price increase in steel, our motor manufacturers still have a 5 per cent. advantage over their European competitors and that, if they cannot cope with competition with that type of advantage, they should look at their own internal organisations with a view to making cost reductions?

Mr. Jenkins

I think that the premise of my hon. Friend about relative steel prices is a very valid one.