HC Deb 15 February 1989 vol 147 c314
17. Mr. Adley

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the implications for the most recently published trade statistics of the practice of United States-owned car manufacturers importing into the United Kingdom cars assembled outwith the United Kingdom.

Mr. Alan Clark

The complex pattern of trade between national plants is subject to so many variables as to rob any estimate based thereon of tangible significance. [Interruption.] I must draw the attention of the House to the fact that I wrote that personally.

Mr. Adley

Will my hon. Friend accept that that is intellectually interesting but politically unsatisfactory? Does he agree that the label "British", as applied, say, to cars manufactured by American-owned companies and assembled in Belgium, Spain or West Germany, is inaccurate? Does he agree also that, for example, Japanese cars, which are also foreign-owned, are at least being built in this country? In view of the constant advice to "Buy British", is it not important that the statistics that he does not know should be known so that we may use the phrase "Buy British" to mean something?

Mr. Clark

There is a lot in what my hon. Friend says. The mass manufacturers have a comprehensive interchange of component supply which entails some confusion. The engines for the Fords that count in the German production total are made in the United Kingdom, just as the engines for the Vauxhalls and Peugeots that count in the United Kingdom production total are made in Germany or in France. It depends how narrowly my hon. Friend wishes to draw his definition. It might mean that the British consumer, if he really wanted to buy British, would be left with a choice of only Jaguar, Range Rover or Morgan.