HC Deb 18 December 1979 vol 976 cc125-6W
Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Industry to what factors he attributes the current level of penetration of the domestic market for new cars; how the present level of penetration compares with the position in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Mitchell

Import penetration in the United Kingdom car market since 1969 has been as follows:

1969 10
1970 14
1971 19
1972 24
1973 27
1974 28
1975 33
1976 38
1977 45
1978 49
1979 56
(11 months)

Many factors have contributed to this trend, including, at times, inability on the part of British manufacturers to meet demand adequately in terms both of volumes and model ranges available. It is clear enough, however, that our car industry has not met the challenge of the EEC market to the same extent that European car manufacturers have seized their opportunity in ours. A significant feature also reflected in the import penetration figures is the way in which the major car manufacturers increasingly regard Europe as a single market: some two-thirds of our car imports are from the rest of the EEC, but of these about 40 per cent. are imported by companies which also manufacture in the United Kingdom. Such cars contain a good deal of exported British components.

The Government are most concerned about the level of car imports, but as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has recently made clear, import controls are no answer for a trading nation. The remedy must lie with the management and workers in the domestic industry, and also with domestic consumers.