HC Deb 08 July 1992 vol 211 c332
17. Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what discussions he has had with the replacement parts industry concerning the European Commission's green paper on industrial design.

Mr. Leigh

I have met representatives of the Association of British Insurers and of the Consumers Association to discuss the possible effects of the European Commission's green paper.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my hon. Friend agree that the European Commission proposals, if implemented, would devastate many thousands of small businesses in this country involved in the manufacture of spare parts for motor cars and specialised body panels? Is that not a travesty of the principle of subsidiarity, and will it not lead to a monopoly for motor vehicle manufacturers, which can only increase prices and reduce choice? Will my hon. Friend totally oppose the proposals?

Mr. Leigh

I confirm that I shall, indeed, totally oppose the measures, which are ill thought out, hasty and anti-competitive. Clearly it makes sense to have some sort of design harmonisation throughout the EC, but that should be done on a deregulatory basis. It makes no sense to insist on design harmonisation for spare parts, which could drive many small firms out of business. I confirm to my hon. Friend and to the House that we shall fight the proposals in the Council and before the Council.

Mr. Flynn

Will the Minister confirm that our influence on industrial design will decline as a result of his Department's inactivity and failure to defend the INMOS jobs about to be exported to France and Italy, and will he tell me now whether the Department has been in touch with Michel Carpentier, the director general of DGXIII? Mr. Carpentier says that the Government have not been in touch with him, and that if they had, the jobs could have been saved. He described the move of those British jobs to Europe as stupid. I know that the Government have been in touch with one department of the Commission, but has the Minister been in touch with DGXIII and DGXVI?

Mr. Leigh

The simple answer to that question is yes.

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