HC Deb 21 March 1983 vol 39 c520
2. Mr. Jim Marshall

asked the Minister for Trade if he will outline the expected benefits to United Kingdom trade and to United Kingdom consumers of the recent trade agreement between the European Community member states and Japan regarding video tape recorders.

Mr. Peter Rees

Voluntary restraint by Japanese exporters of video tape recorders to the Community should encourage import substitution and the creation of new jobs. Production is now under way through the joint venture between Thorn EMI and JVC, and two other Japanese companies have announced plans to follow suit.

Mr. Marshall

How many jobs are likely to 5e created in the United Kingdom as a consequence of that agreement? Does the Minister agree that the maximum number of jobs created will probably be between 200 and 300, instead of thousands, and that the main benefits of the agreement will go to France and Germany rather than to the United Kingdom?

Mr. Rees

I can give no estimate of the number of jobs likely to be created. That would be highly speculative. However, no doubt those hon. Members with Livingston and Haddington in their constituencies will be reassured by the fact that two Japanese companies are proposing to manufacture video tape recorders there.

Mr. Archer

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman accept the assessment of the Financial Times on 14 February that at present there is no United Kingdom product that is likely to benefit from the arrangement, and that in the foreseeable future there is only the Sanyo product planned to be assembled in Lowestoft and the Mitsubishi product planned to be assembled in Scotland, which will create about 200 jobs? Does he agree that, in the absence of Government action to stimulate development and investment, all that will happen is that the British consumer will be required to pay higher prices for a restricted range of West German products?

Mr. Rees

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will observe that one element of the agreement negotiated by the Commission with the Japanese is to allow the development of a European, and especially a United Kingdom, industry. The right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to imagine, like too many of his right hon. and hon. Friends, that the only way to stimulate industrial development is by pouring in public money. That is not this Government's policy.