HC Deb 14 July 1980 vol 988 cc1039-41
9. Mr. Deakins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what advice he gives to British manufacturers whose overseas customers have to wait a long time before they can get delivery of the goods they wish to buy.

Mr. Nott

I tell them that it is of paramount importance to get their goods delivered on time, as indeed the great majority of British companies do.

Mr. Deakins

Is the Minister satisfied with the fact that this country produces a number of world-beating industrial products, such as the Land Rover, the Range Rover and the Rolls-Royce, and yet it has not, in 30 years, increased investment and output sufficiently to satisfy overseas demands and avoid waiting lists of up to two years in many parts of the world?

Mr. Nott

I agree. This has been one of the tragedies of the past decade. I take the hon. Gentleman's example. It is only now that we have a huge increase in Land Rover capacity coming on-stream and yet there has been a tremendous demand for British Land Rovers all over the world. I am delighted that we now have the production. Let us hope that we can sell the cars.

Sir Frederick Burden

Is it not true that if there were fewer strikes the delivery of high-cost capital goods from this country to our overseas customers would be much more prompt in many instances?

Mr. Nott


Mr. Spriggs

Is the Secretary of State aware that it is important that people who use cars should show a little self-discipline and not expect the Government to legislate to curtail imports? We, the citizens of this country, should discipline ourselves to buy British.

Mr. Nott

I welcome the hon. Member's remarks. I am sure that he and Sir Michael Edwardes could, between them, conduct a very useful campaign.

Mr. Gummer

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we could do more to get our goods delivered on time if we improved the productivity of British industry? Is it not true that the major stop on that productivity is the continual use of out-of-date work practices, which are constantly covered up by Labour Members demanding import controls? Let us put our own house in order first before we introduce import controls.

Mr. Nott

My hon. Friend is right. In answer to a later question I shall give some interesting statistics which show that it is in our relatively low productivity that we have fallen down, not in any changed pattern of world trade.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Does the Secretary of State never have a word of rebuke for inefficient management? Is it only trade unions which suffer his attacks? Is there not a case for the Government trying to do something positive to bring industrial democracy to this country?

Mr. Nott

I was not aware that a word of rebuke for the trade unions had passed my lips today. In this Question Time the trade unions have been beyond any kind of criticism at all.