Motor Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:04 pm on 26th July 1979.

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Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford 10:04 pm, 26th July 1979

My interest in regional policy as it affects the motor car industry is, of course, moulded by the fact that my constituency, Oxford, has a very substantial number of people employed in the BL plant at Cowley. Some 22,900 people—about 13·5 per cent of the working population of my constituency—work in BL.

I wish to restrict my remarks to regional policy, the motor car industry and BL alone. I am sure that all my right hon. and hon. Friends, along with the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield) and his right hon. and hon. Friends, if they were here showing their remarkable interest in the motor car industry, would join me in saying that they did not want to see BL spend the rest of its life as a permanent pensioner of the State. The hon. Member for Nuneaton and I may disagree about the future ownership of BL. He may feel, rightly from his point of view, that BL should remain in State ownership. I do not share that view. But I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House hope that BL will soon be producing motor cars which are not largely subsidised by the taxpayer.

Unfortunately, there are a number of obstacles in the way of this course, and, following the admirable remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Cadbury) on the structural importance of BL—