National Enterprise Board

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 John Evans Mr John Evans , Newton 12:00 am, 12th November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he next expects to meet the chairman of the National Enterprise Board.

Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to meet the chairman of the National Enterprise Board.

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

I expect to meet the chairman of the National Enterprise Board shortly.

Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , Newton

When the Secretary of State meets the chairman of the National Enterprise Board, will he make it clear to him that part of the substantial job that there is for the NEB is control of Rolls-Royce?

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

I have undertaken to consider the representations of the NEB on that subject and to make an announcement when the decision has been made.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , Knutsford

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that when he makes his statement on the future of Rolls-Royce he will bear in mind that, from the taxpayer's point of view, there could be a case for what Sir Kenneth Keith described as a "bureaucratic contraceptive", in the light of the record of Rolls-Royce in accumulating orders regardless of any visible prospect of any return in even the distant future?

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

My hon. Friend, who is very acute in economic matters, must agree that the assumption made by Rolls-Royce about the exchange rate in its hugely successful drive for orders under the chairmanship of Sir Kenneth Keith was common to many other parts of British industry. However, I fully accept that it is greatly in the interests of the taxpayer that Sir Kenneth Keith, his colleagues and successors should make the very best, in terms of profit and cost, of the huge order book that Rolls-Royce has.

Photo of Mr Thomas Urwin Mr Thomas Urwin , Houghton-le-Spring

When the Secretary of State meets the chairman of the NEB, will he discuss with him, as a matter of urgency, the siting of the production units of the microchip industry, and will he ensure that the Northern region is favourably considered for the location of one of these units?

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

I am sure that the chairman of the NEB will read the right hon. Gentleman's question. Such decisions are entirely for the NEB.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Hillingdon Ruislip Northwood

Can my right hon. Friend say what benefits he judges to have accrued from the interposition of the NEB between the management of Rolls-Royce and his Department? Can he suggest whether this has in any way improved the financial management of Rolls-Royce?

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

I do not wish to enter into questions of judgment on such matters, but the decision to put Rolls-Royce under the NEB was taken by the previous Government.