HC Deb 03 November 1975 vol 899 cc13-4
3. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what response he has been able to gauge from consumers in the United Kingdom to his recent "Buy British" exhortation.

Mr. Shore

I have found considerable willingness to support British suppliers in the interests of helping the country overcome its current economic crisis. This support could be far greater if some suppliers improved their performance.

Mr. Dykes

Does the exhortation apply with equal force to the other countries in the European Community?

Mr. Shore

If I may say so to the hon. Gentleman, this is—[An Hon. Member: "Answer."] Of course I shall answer. The hon. Gentleman's remark is slightly frivolous. Encouraging people to buy British is not at all frivolous. My view is that it is sensible, common sense and wholly beneficial to our own people who want to help their own country at a time of difficulty. But the great difference between Britain and the other countries of the EEC is that we alone at present have a major and substantial balance of payments deficit.

Mr. Corbett

Will my right hon. Friend consider having further talks with the CBI and other bodies to try to put some renewed steam behind this call for people to "Buy British"? Further, will he have renewed consultations with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry so that we can get the National Enterprise Board into business as quickly as possible to ensure that there are actually enough British manufactured goods for people to buy?

Mr. Shore

My hon. Friend has mentioned two important matters. I shall certainly look forward to opportunities of discussing this whole subject with the CBI and the TUC. It may well be that in the context of meetings of the NEDC we shall find an early opportunity of doing that.

Concerning the National Enterprise Board, the answer is "Yes". If we are anxious to supply, as we must be at present, more of our needs from home production, whether we have the manufacturing capacity to meet our needs in a number of sectors where we should satisfactorily supply is extremely relevant. Therefore, we must do our best to see that questions of supply and efficiency in supply are dealt with, as well as directing ourselves to getting our own people to buy more of their own home products.

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