§ 2. Mr. Simon Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his estimate of the rate of growth in the production of compact discs in Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Consumer Affairs (Mr. Edward Leigh)
Production of compact discs in the United Kingdom rose from 1.1 million in 1985 to 78.5 million in 1990.
§ Mr. Coombs
The whole House will wish to congratulate a manufacturing industry of this country which has increased its output to such a remarkable extent in only six years. Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity also to congratulate the British manufacturers Nimbus and EMI on the excellence of their technology, and Chandos and Hyperion, not only on their excellent technology but on the fact that they have been pioneer recorders of British music?
§ Mr. Leigh
I know that my hon. Friend speaks up effectively for industry and business in his constituency, and he is right to draw attention to the success and growth rate of the compact disc industry. Because the industry is so new, it is meaningless to talk in terms of 135 per cent. compound rate of growth from 1985 to the present day. However, if one bears in mind that between 1989 and 1990 growth was 20 per cent., that shows a very healthy industry.
§ Mr. Tony Banks
The CD industry is not so new that it has not worked out how to price goods. Will the Minister examine the pricing structure within the industry, because CDs still cost an unacceptably high amount given the increased volume of manufacture? When he looks at that industry, will he have a word with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who, I understand, has amassed a vast collection of CDs and is clearly trying to do for the price of CDs what Bunker Hunt did for silver?
§ Mr. Leigh
The price of CDs in the United Kingdom—clearly the hon. Gentleman is an expert—is about £.10.99 or £11.99, which compares with about £12 in France, about £13 in Germany and about £12 in Japan. So it is not fair to say that there is overwhelming evidence that CDs are overpriced in this country. If there were evidence of a cartel, the Office of Fair Trading would be interested. It is conducting an informal inquiry into the music industry in general, but in the absence of any firm evidence of a cartel it would be inappropriate for the Department to intervene.