HC Deb 29 January 1979 vol 961 cc1017-9
15. Mr. Ronald Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what have been the volume and value of exports of rail- way engineering products in the last year for which figures are available; and how these compare with the previous two years.

Mr. Meacher

The value of these exports in 1978 was £82 million compared with £39 million in 1977 and £37 million in 1976. With permission, I will circulate the remaining information requested in the Official Report.

Mr. Atkins

Is my hon. Friend aware of the enormous programmes of capital expenditure on railways in the leading countries of the world this year? Is he satisfied that the British railway engineering industry, with its lead in technology over almost every other country, is taking full advantage of these opportunities?

Mr. Meacher

The Government fully support and have part funded for its first three years the British railway industry's export group. The Department of Transport is jointly sponsoring with the British Railways Board the case for a programme of main line electrification, a main purpose of which is to promote exports.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Has the Minister been made aware that the Japanese recently announced that one of their linear motor-propelled trains had reached 500 km per hour and that the Japanese Government are now spending £9 million a year on research into linear motors in this area? Will he now reconsider some of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Science and Technology about linear motor development in this county?

Mr. Meacher

That, of course, is a matter for the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Stoddart

Is my hon. Friend aware that people in Swindon very much welcome the Government's support for railway exports and also for the British railways? Is he also aware, or in any event will he note, that, as a result of Government policy and railway policy, Swindon—this is the first time that such a thing has happened since 1962—will be completing the first railway locomotive for Kenya on Wednesday of this week?

Mr. Meacher

I congratulate those responsible for that important export.

Following are the figures for exports of railway vehicles and associated equipment:

Volume (thousand tonnes) Value (£ million fob)
1976 43.5 36.7
1977 31.9 39.4
1978 36.1 82.4

Source: United Kingdom Overseas Trade Statistics, chiefly SITC (Rev 2) group 791 and corresponding items under SITC (Rev 1).

Note: Includes electric traffic control equipment for railways for 1977 and 1978 only.

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