HC Deb 13 April 1994 vol 241 cc206-8
23. Mr. Spring

To ask the President of the Board of Trade to what extent the level of United Kingdom motor car production has changed in the past 12 months; and what the equivalent figures are for France and Germany.

Mr. McLoughlin

United Kingdom car production for the year ending January 1994 was 5 per cent. higher than for the year ending January 1993. This compares with falls of 14 per cent. and 22 per cent. in France and Germany respectively.

Mr. Spring

Is my hon. Friend aware that the number of new car registrations is up by about 7 per cent. in the first quarter of this year and that the industry's productivity showed an increase of 7 per cent. in the whole of 1993? Does he agree that the reputation of British cars, once so poor, has been totally transformed in the past 10 years—hence these excellent export performances—and that they are now among the finest in the world?

Mr. McLoughlin

I agree entirely. Ours is truly one of the success stories of the car industry. The United Kingdom is now securing huge amounts of investment in the motor manufacturing industry, something that was unthought of in the late 1970s.

Mr. Miller

I am sure that the Minister will join me in congratulating Vauxhall Motors at Ellesmere Port on sustaining a massive export effort. Does he share the views expressed by a number of major manufacturers in the area that that export effort would be improved if investment were made in the railway infrastructure, especially the west coast main line and the links into the manufacturing complexes?

Mr. McLoughlin

Investment in the rail industry is important. As the hon. Gentleman says, since 1989 some £200 million has been invested in manufacturing facilities for production of the Astra at Ellesmere Port.

Mr. Fabricant

Is my hon. Friend aware that Toyota, which is sited just between Lichfield and Derby—an area which my hon. Friend knows well—will, when it comes on stream at the end of this year, make Britain a net exporter of cars? Is he further aware that, had it been up to the Opposition, Toyota would not even have looked at Britain because of their introduction of the social chapter?

Mr. McLoughlin

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he rightly says, I know the Toyota factory to which he refers, as it is only two miles from where I live. Toyota made the largest single investment ever made in Europe. It chose the United Kingdom because it was confident in how the Government had transformed the economy.