§ 7. Mr. Hal Miller
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is his estimate for imports and exports of motor vehicles in 1974 and 1975; and what proportion exports of motor vehicles are likely to represent United Kingdom total exports in those years.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Eric Deakins)
It is not the practice to venture such estimates. However, in January to May this year 174,000 motor vehicles and chassis were imported and 297,000 were exported, the latter representing 4.3 per cent. by value of total United Kingdom exports.
§ Mr. Miller
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that unless our export trade in motors cars is kept up this year there will be a serious decline in domestic production, with consequent results on employment? Is he further aware that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for 10 Industry gave a most misleading reply in the House a fortnight ago and published a bullish estimate of production the following week, to which I took great exception?
§ Mr. Deakins
Questions about production in the motor car industry should rightly be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry. The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is that there is scope for further exports in world markets. At the same time we have to bear in mind that world demand is not expanding as rapidly as it has done in recent years, partly because of the oil crisis and partly because of the general economic situation, but we feel that our motor car industry, with its wide range of smaller cars, is well placed to meet this demand.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the needs of our own coach-building industry, with particular reference to public service vehicles? In connection with the export of chassis, may I ask my hon. Friend to bear in mind that for a long time coach-builders in this country—and there is one in particular in my constituency—were on short-time working because so many chassis were being exported that the home demand was not being met?
§ Mr. Deakins
It is of advantage to our balance of payments to export complete vehicles rather than merely the chassis and have the body put on overseas. I take note of my hon. Friend's point and I shall look into it.