§ 2.51 p.m
§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are aware that in spite of repeated representations to the appropriate authorities, no manufacturer of motor omnibuses yet knows what number of omnibuses or of omnibus chassis, for use in the United Kingdom, he is expected to manufacture during the year 1948; that materials for production of such vehicles are necessarily ordered in accordance with specifications settled at least nine months in advance; that such specifications cannot be altered at short notice, and that in default of a Government direction in this matter, manufacturers are consequently compelled, unless progressively increasing numbers of workers cease to be employed, to proceed with manufacturing programmes for 1948 on the basis of programmes approved some 9-12 months ago.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (VISCOUNT HALL)
My, Lords, the reduction in the number of new omnibuses for the home market in 1948 necessarily involves a number of difficult adjustments in the manufacturing industry. Discussions have taken place with the representative associations of manufacturers and operators and the problem is being considered as a matter of urgency by my right honourable friends the Ministers of Supply and Transport. It is hoped that further discussions will take place with the associations concerned and that decisions will be reached in the very near future.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware that the present allocation of steel to the heavy motor car industry is enough for only 46 per cent. of its production, that the present permitted production of heavy motor vehicles amounts to only 25 per cent. for export and 21 per cent. for the home market, 909 and that any excess over that will have to be transferred to the export market? Chassis for the export market are different from those for the home market. The two cannot be interchanged. I hope that the noble Viscount will see that some definite reply is forthcoming at an early date, otherwise there will be no alternative for manufacturers but to discharge a great many hands, and even to close some works. This will have the effect of raising costs overseas and we shall lose markets.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
My Lords, I can assure the noble Earl that I am fully aware of the urgency of the matter, and I have this morning been in touch with my colleagues. They appreciate how important it is to arrive at a decision, though it should be pointed out that orders already placed by operators far exceed the possible supply during the course of this year.