HC Deb 16 October 1991 vol 196 cc296-8
4. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received calling for a Buy British campaign.

The Minister for Corporate Affairs (Mr. John Redwood)

My hon. Friend the Minister for Trade has recently announced a partnership sourcing initiative which encourages companies to look carefully at how they buy goods. They should take into account currency fluctuations and distance of travel when considering purchasing. We get several representations on this subject. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess) is especially keen to promote the purchase of goods from Basildon, and I welcome that.

Mr. Amess

In the light of the opportunities likely to be provided by the advent of the single market next year, is my hon. Friend aware that on Friday our local European Member of Parliament, Miss Patricia Rawlings, and I will re-launch the "Buy British Goods From Basildon" campaign? Does my hon. Friend agree that Opposition parties would do well to follow our lead and talk up British goods and services rather than talking them down, as they so often do?

Mr. Redwood

I am delighted by my hon. Friend's energy and delighted that he supports his local industry so strongly. When he has finished with Basildon, perhaps he could come and support goods from Wokingham, which I am keen to see bought in the markets of the world.

Mr. Tony Banks

If we are to have a Buy British campaign, may I suggest that Members of Parliament could set an example to begin with? If the Minister goes down to the car park, he will see that most of the cars there are not British but foreign. How many Conservative Members can put their hands up and say that they are dressed in British clothes and buy British cars?

Mr. Redwood

The hon. Gentleman has chosen the wrong Minister. I have a British car and I am proud to own one. It provides extremely good value for money and is a high-quality motor vehicle. Many of my hon. Friends do the same, especially those who represent midlands constituencies, where they strongly support the British motor industry. I hope that the same is true of Opposition Members.

Mr. Charles Wardle

I have a British car in the car park and have never had a non-British car there. Is not the most effective Buy British campaign one that does not play on consumer loyalty but urges manufacturers to outdo imports with the best-designed and best-quality products at the keenest prices?

Mr. Redwood

That is exactly right. We do not say, "Buy British" because goods are British but because—and if—they are extremely good products. I buy many British products and I am usually delighted with the quality and value for money. That is the way to encourage British manufacturing industry.

Mr. Alton

How does the Minister counter the charge made by some of the workers recently made redundant at the GPT plant at Edge Vale in Liverpool, where 600 redundancies have occurred in the System X production unit, who say that the Government are not encouraging people to buy British technology in the same aggressive way as the French Government encourage people to buy the same sort of product, particularly in the developing world?

Mr. Redwood

My hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and all other Ministers in the Department of Trade and Industry give full support to all British businesses trying to sell abroad. On purchasing within the United Kingdom and the European Community, we have to live within the rules of article 30 and the public purchasing directives. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that other countries are not playing fair, he should let us have the evidence and we will take the matter up with the Commission, because we believe that all countries should play by the same rules.