HC Deb 03 July 1985 vol 82 cc326-7
11. Mr. Ashdown

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the United Kingdom market for maximum weight heavy lorries has been gained by domestic manufacturers over each of the last 10 years.

Mr. Butcher

In 1984 domestic manufacturers had 41.6 per cent. of the United Kingdom market for heavier weight commercial vehicles. The corresponding share in 1975 was 61.9 per cent. I shall include in the Official Report a table showing figures for the past 10 years.

Mr. Ashdown

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Does he recognise that that means a drop of 20 per cent. over that period? Does he recall that of the arguments put forward, particularly by the road lobby, for the increase in heavy lorry weights, one of the strongest was that it would increase the domestic manufacturers' base? Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that those figures point to exactly the opposite having happened? Will he make sure that he nails any similar fallacy that may be used in current discussions about increasing heavy lorry weights?

Mr. Butcher

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's constituency interest in heavy lorry weights. The major part of the fall in the British share of that market occurred from 1975 to 1979, when it went down by 13 per cent., at a time when industrial relations were particularly bad and productivity was particularly poor. However, I note what the hon. Gentleman said about the European dimension and the effect that it may have on future product development of vehicles in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Does my hon. Friend agree that despite that reduction, which, as we said, happened in the earlier stages of the decade, the amount of work and effort being put in by the management and work force at Leyland Vehicles—coincidentally in Leyland in my constituency — shows the strength that the company now has in world markets and the high quality of the trucks that it is now making?

Mr. Butcher

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the vigorous representations that he makes on behalf of the work force at Leyland vehicles. I also congratulate the company on the success of its new designs and on its new models, which are producing an increase in the market share for Leyland vehicles.

Following are the figures:

Year Domestic manufacturers' share (%) of the UK market for heavier weight commercial vehicles (1)
1975 61.9
1976 55.0
1977 54.6
1978 50.9
1979 48.9
1980 50.0
1981 50.8
1982 44.8
1983 42.4
1984 41.6

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Note (1): Articulated vehicles over 29 tonnes and four-axled trucks.