Fleet News

MP calls for buy British policy

A LABOUR MP has criticised the Government's failure to support the domestic car industry in buying decisions for it's Whitehall fleet. Dudley South MP Ian Pearson is pressing his bosses to adopt a 'buy British' policy when sourcing vehicles for the Government's 7,000-vehicle fleet.

Pearson, whose constituency sits in the Midlands motor manufacturing heartland, which has been hit hard by the tumultuous changes at Rover's Longbridge plant, has surveyed Government departments to discover the number of vehicles they are running which are manufactured in Britain, in Europe or the rest of the world. He levelled his severest condemnation at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Home Office and Lord Chancellor's Office for their lack of national fervour.

Pearson, who is member of the employment select sub-committee, said: 'The Government really ought to be supporting this country's car industry. It is one of the big purchasers which can make a difference to the economy. But sometimes the left hand of the Government doesn't know what the right is doing.

'Departments like those run by the DETR, Home Office and Lord Chancellor's have many more foreign-made cars than UK-made.This is not good enough and I want to see the Government move to a more sensible method of purchasing.

'I'm not advocating supply chauvinism, but good common sense. The public sector spends taxpayers' money and therefore should spend it on British cars to keep our people in jobs.'

Pearson found that the Lord Chancellor's department operates 261 UK-produced cars and vans and 385 from elsewhere, the DETR 540 cars and vans from the UK and 556 from elsewhere and the Cabinet Office 76 from the UK and 171 from abroad.

But Nick Matheson, chief executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency, which supplies cars to ministers across all departments, said: 'It would make my job a lot easier if I could bias car choice towards the UK because it would mean simpler cost control and administration. However, the reality is that we select cars on the basis of their utility and fitness for the purpose and any considerations about badge, make or country of origin are secondary.'

The Government Car and Despatch Agency runs a total of 246 vehicles, 75 made in the UK and 171 from Europe.

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