HC Deb 21 July 1993 vol 229 c341
7. Mr. Alan Howarth

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the figures for new car registrations in the United Kingdom for the first six months of 1993.

The Minister for Industry (Mr. Tim Sainsbury)

I welcome the 9.14 per cent. increase in new car registrations in the first six months of this year as compared with 1992.

Mr. Howarth

In welcoming those impressive and encouraging figures, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend has noted that virtually every car company has now committed itself to give to charity 30p-plus for every new car registered in the United Kingdom? As a result, more than £250.000 has already been raised for charities by the industry since the start of this year. Will my right hon. Friend congratulate Rover group, Peugeot Talbot, Jaguar and others on this pioneering and admirable example of social responsibility in one of our major industries? Will he commend this model of charitable giving to other industries?

Mr. Sainsbury

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the car industry on what he has described as an admirable example of responsibility and charitable giving by companies. I hope that he accepts, however, that I believe that it is best to leave each company to decide how best to discharge its responsibilities in that respect.

Mr. Olner

I welcome the increase in car registrations. Would the Minister care to comment, however, on the plight of workers at the Peugeot Talbot plant in Coventry in my constituency, where 300 will be made redundant this summer because the company is taking work away from the United Kingdom and giving it to French factories? Would he care to comment on the fact that the French already enjoy the benefits flowing from the social chapter, yet they are denied to our workers?

Mr. Sainsbury

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has discussed with the management of the factory its relative competitiveness as opposed to that of the French factories. I f he were to do so, I believe that he would discover that the factory's ability to compete is much improved—

Mr. Olner

What about the social chapter?

Mr. Sainsbury

If the hon. Gentleman asks a question, he might have the courtesy to listen to the answer.

If the hon. Gentleman asked the management about the social chapter, I think that he would discover that, because of the great improvements in productivity that it has achieved in the past few years, it is able to compete with its French fellow producers of Peugeot cars. If that factory were saddled with the social chapter, there is absolutely no doubt that its costs would go up and it would become less competitive. That seems to he a splendid way in which to destroy jobs in the hon. Gentleman's constituency.