Chrysler Uk Limited (Linwood Works)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd February 1976.

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Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 2nd February 1976

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration; namely, the continued strike at the Linwood works of Chrysler Limited, in defiance of the Government's intention that no more money should be forthcoming if this strike continues. I think that that in itself is specific and I do not need to prove that the matter is more specific than is suggested by the title of the debate that I believe we should hold.

I believe that it is important not only because £162 million is in itself important but because the very word and confidence of the Government are at risk.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. I understand that the hon. Gentleman put a sort of explanatory question to the Table Office on this matter. Whether he gave specific notice or not I am very doubtful. I have had no notice in writing that he intended to make this application. Is he contending that he did give notice of this application?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I did not give notice to the Table Office, Mr. Speaker, but I gave notice to your office and they accepted that notice. I am sorry if it did not reach you, but I took great care to do that and I hope that it has been received. I took that precaution.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Just to clear the matter up, I understand that a telephone message, the meaning of which was subject to some dubiety, did reach my office.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The matter is important, because the whole credibility of the Government is at stake. The Government having said that this money will be forthcoming to Chrysler UK Limited only on condition that industrial relations improve, it proves that their word means nothing if at this stage they cannot carry out that intention.

The matter is urgent because meetings are taking place at present. If this House is not to have its authority challenged, it must immediately debate whether it still wishes to proceed with the grant of the £162 million, otherwise the House will have lost control of its own expenditure when a condition attached to that expenditure will not, or may not, be met. It is urgent that the House should make its decision known whether it still wishes to grant this money before final negotiations are concluded, since clearly the grant or non-grant of the money will have a dramatic effect on the conclusion of those negotiations and the future of Chrysler UK Limited.

I know that tomorrow would not be an ideal day for this debate, but although tomorrow will be a very sad day for many of us, it would not be a bad thing if it were possible to arrange the debate for Wednesday, since that would give time for the negotiations to be concluded. It may be that the debate would not have to take place if they could be satisfactorily settled before then. But in the event of continued deadlock, I suggest that, in what will be your very sad absence on that day, Mr. Speaker, it would be appropriate for the House to express its view whether it still wishes to make this grant to Chrysler.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I am very doubtful whether the hon. Gentleman's arguments about what will happen tomorrow or on Wednesday improve his chances of having his application accepted. As I have said so often, mine is a procedural decision only. I have to decide whether I think that it is appropriate for Standing Order No. 9 to be brought into operation. I am not allowed to give my reasons, but I am allowed to have regard to what is happening and to general considerations. Therefore, I am afraid that I must say, without any doubt at all, that the answer is "No".