National Enterprise Board (Capital Requirements)
Mr Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)
Fortunately for British industry and for the reputation of the House, the adversary approach which the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) sought to adopt at the beginning of the debate has not so far been followed on his own Benches, and, in so far as there have been controversial speeches, they have come from below the Gangway on the Government side. That leads me, at least, to feel that both Mr. Michael Edwardes and the National Enterprise Board are broadly probably on the right path at present.
Before coming to two or three of the matters which have proved somewhat controversial, I shall refer to two matters which seem to me to be constituted of sheer fact. First, it seems to me factual that the two matters before the House today—the motion for £150 million and the Statutory Instrument covering £300 million—stand or fall together, whether they be right or wrong. I cannot see any logic or common sense in attempting to divide the two, either from the point of view of British Leyland or from the point of view of the National Enterprise Board.
As regards British Leyland, it is clear from passages in the NEB's report on British Leyland's corporate plan that the £450 million is a carefully considered sum put forward very deliberately by the chairman and his new team at British Leyland. Obviously, it has been argued out in great detail, and in no sense is it a bidding figure put forward by the chairman with any thought that he would get something rather less.
It seems to me that this is a sum which involves the future service of Mr. Michael Edwardes and his team, and my reading of the NEB's report is that, putting it in the nicest possible way, without appearing to shove a gun at the head of the House, if the £450 million or any part of it is refused tonight, Mr. Michael Edwardes and some of his team will not remain much longer in their key positions. If I am wrong in reading that into the NEB's report, I shall be glad to be told soon.