Chrysler Uk Limited

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th December 1975.

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Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Industry 12:00 am, 15th December 1975

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the terms of the Chrysler deal in order that the House may have time to consider it before tomorrow's debate.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

No, Sir. My discussions with the Chrysler Corporation are not yet complete, but I shall be in a position to report their outcome to the House tomorrow.

Hon. Members:

Resign.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Industry

Will the right hon. Gentleman think again about how he can make available to the House in advance of the debate the terms that he is so confident of reaching with the Chrysler Corporation, so that the House may have the opportunity of reading those terms rather than listening to them dribbled out in the course of his speech?

Secondly, what steps does the right hon. Gentleman intend to take to ensure that the House will give its authority to the Government to enable the Government to conclude a deal with Chrysler before the end of the year?

Thirdly, does the right hon. Gentleman understand that the House accepts that any Government are entitled to privacy in conducting controversial negotiations? Will he therefore explain why his colleagues have leaked the substance of the deal to the Press, which is far better informed than is the House?

Will the right hon. Gentleman also explain to his colleagues that their bickering and in-fighting, all of which has also been substantially leaked to the Press, have already destroyed, in advance of anything he may say tomorrow, what little credibility his Government's industrial strategy has left?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I do not think that it would be helpful to anticipate the answers to any of the questions the hon. Gentleman has asked. I can tell him only that the detailed heads of agreement are still under discussion with the Chrysler Corporation and are subject to further exchanges between the Corporation and my Department. I do not expect that they will be completed until later today. There is very little that I can add to what I have already said.

Photo of Mr Leslie Huckfield Mr Leslie Huckfield , Nuneaton

Does my right hon. Friend accept that many of us, on the Government benches at least, appreciate that the statement is possibly the most important on industrial policy that this Government have yet had to make, and that therefore it is appropriate and correct that it should be comprehensive and final? Nevertheless, will he also accept that many of us, particularly those representing Chrysler constituencies, would like to press upon him the urgency of giving us some information so that we may tell our constituents exactly where they stand?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I hope to be in a position to make a comprehensive statement to the House tomorrow, but I cannot go further than that. I hope that my hon. Friend will not think that I have been discourteous. I have taken big steps to keep my hon. Friends and Opposition Members informed as much as possible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] As the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) acknowledged, it is necessary for the negotiations to take place. They must take place in a confidential atmosphere, and that is what is happening.

Photo of Mr Alexander Fletcher Mr Alexander Fletcher , Edinburgh North

Who is the target for the softening-up process in reports in the weekend Press about Chrysler? Is it a matter of softening up Parliament, the Labour Party, or the rest of the British motor industry?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

The hon. Gentleman trivialises the matter. We are dealing with a most serious industrial problem involving the livelihood of 25,000 people working directly for Chrysler and many more who work in supplying industries. It does not help to be mischievous in the way that the hon. Gentleman is.

Photo of Mr Eric Moonman Mr Eric Moonman , Basildon

In making the comprehensive statement that he has promised, will my right hon. Friend relate it to two other matters associated with Chrysler—how the deal affects and impinges on the Government's general industrial policy and how far it affects the motor car industry in terms of marketing and production? Some of us also represent constituencies other than Chrysler constituencies.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

In my speech tomorrow shall of course relate whatever we have to say on the Chrysler Corporation and the Chrysler UK situation to the Government's industrial strategy and the whole of the motor car industry.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. There is an important statement to be made, and then we are to have a debate in which many hon. Members want to take part. We cannot have the Chrysler issue debated today as well as tomorrow. I shall allow one more question from each side.

Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West

Is it not clear from what the hon. Gentleman has already said that his solution for Chrysler is likely to present a complex picture to the House? Does he not agree that in those circumstances it would be more courteous and helpful to the House as a whole if he gave hon. Members the opportunity to consider the terms of the proposal he has to make before inviting them to debate those proposals?

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is very important that the Chrysler decision, whatever it may be, is put into the context not only of the CPRS Report but of the Government's views on the Report of the Select Committee on Expenditure? Is he not aware that it would be impossible to do justice to these matters and to their importance to the country if he were simply to make a statement during the course of the debate? [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Will the right hon. Gentleman do his best to ensure that the debate is postponed by at least 24 hours to enable hon. Members to give proper consideration to these matters?

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

The timing of the debate is not for me, but for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and, I expect, the usual channels. I have already given an undertaking that there will be a comprehensive statement and that it will be related to the CPRS Report, which will be made available tomorrow. I should be very surprised if I did not also refer during the debate to the Report of the Select Committee. If we manage to reach an agreement with the Chrysler Corporation it will certainly require further parliamentary procedures, and there will be further opportunities to debate the matter.

Photo of Mr Raymond Fletcher Mr Raymond Fletcher , Ilkeston

May I make my right hon. Friend aware that I would resign the Labour Whip this afternoon if I believed everything I have read in the weekend Press? The fact that I do not believe everything I read in the Press, although I write for it, enables me to stay on this side of the House. May I also make my right hon. Friend aware that it is the custom of the House to debate information that is conveyed to it in the course of debate? Those hon. Members who wish to be acquainted with the facts should attend the damned debate.

Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. He is right in the advice which he gives and his advice should be taken. Right hon. and hon. Members would be very foolish to believe everything they have read in the newspapers.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Industry

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hope that you will not think that I am trespassing on the rules of order, Mr. Speaker, but quite clearly during the course of the right hon. Gentleman's replies I heard him refer to making a statement tomorrow and making a speech tomorrow. It would be for the convenience of the House if we knew which he meant.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

That is not really a matter of order.

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

Further to that point of order—

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I have said that it is not a point of order. I have allowed the House considerable latitude this afternoon in asking about ministerial statements and answers which are nothing to do with the Chair.

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

On another point of order, Mr. Speaker. It cannot have escaped your notice, Mr. Speaker, that this afternoon we have had two statements from the Government Front Bench which have treated the House with scant courtesy. We have read in the Press this weekend a blueprint—I am referring to yesterday's edition of The Sunday Times—of the Chrysler solution, yet the Secretary of State has said—

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. First, that is not a point of order. Second, I hope that each side will treat the House with courtesy.

Several Hon. Members:

rose