British Leyland

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th November 1979.

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Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington 12:00 am, 12th November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on future finance for British Leyland.

Photo of Mr Leslie Huckfield Mr Leslie Huckfield , Nuneaton

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement on his future policy on British Leyland.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

No proposals are yet before me.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

In view of what my right hon. Friend has said about State intervention, will he confirm that he recognises and accepts the difference between a taxpayers' subsidy to keep open a plant that otherwise cannot be kept going and a desire by private enterprise to put money into a manufacturing facility, such as MG at Abingdon, where the nationalised corporation cannot or will not make the place work? Is he aware—

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. Was the hon. Gentleman in the Chamber at the beginning of Question Time when I asked for one supplementary question if possible?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I ask the hon. Gentleman to do his best.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

Will my right hon. Friend give positive encouragement to those who want to maintain the manufacturing capacity at Abingdon?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

British Leyland has made clear that it is willing to examine any proposals that make commercial sense to it. I understand that the executives of Aston Martin Lagonda and British Leyland have been meeting today in London.

Photo of Mr Leslie Huckfield Mr Leslie Huckfield , Nuneaton

Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that he has said little of a positive character about British Leyland? Will he bear in mind that though the ballot has taken place its result proves nothing? Indeed, British Leyland has said that the ballot proves nothing. Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the only condition for British Leyland's long-term survival is a long-term investment plan for a new modern strategy, with financial support coming from his Department?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

The successful conclusion of the negotiations on the British Leyland cars, wages and conditions of work package will be more important than the result of the ballot in assessing the case for any more taxpayers' money.

Photo of Mr Hilary Miller Mr Hilary Miller , Bromsgrove and Redditch

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House when he expects to bring before it for consideration the request from the NEB and BL for the payment of the final instalment of the £225 million out of the £1,000 million originally voted?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I do not control the timing of any such consideration. The British Leyland board has to make its proposals, and then the National Enterprise Board has to put the proposals that it thinks fit to the Government. It is only then that the Government have something to consider.

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West

Has the right hon. Gentleman decided whether to allow British Leyland to become directly responsible to his Department and to escape from what has been described as the umbrella of the NEB? If not, when will he make that decision?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

No such decision is asked of me at this moment.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Before my right hon. Friend makes any further funds available to British Leyland, will he ensure that the management of British Leyland has considered breaking up the managerial monolith of the company?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I have confidence in the British Leyland management to consider all the options. However, I shall bear in mind my hon. Friend's thoughts if a proposal comes before the Government.

Photo of Mr David Stoddart Mr David Stoddart , Swindon

Is it not a fact that if we are to maintain a viable British car industry it is necessary for British Leyland to spend a huge amount of capital on the development of new models? Will he ensure that the company is able to obtain that capital?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

The hon. Gentleman is asking the question to which I have already given some replies. There is no plan at present before the Government.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

As two of the most successful products of British Leyland are the Range Rover and the Land Rover, does my right hon. Friend agree that there is something radically wrong when men are sleeping on the job, bearing in mind the potential export market for that type of motor vehicle?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

Bearing in mind the proposals that the British Leyland management has put to its work force, the management is well aware of a scope for improved performance.