National Enterprise Board

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 1979.

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Photo of Hon. John Silkin Hon. John Silkin , Lewisham, Deptford 12:00 am, 21st November 1979

I wish 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 future of the National Enterprise Board in the light of the unparalleled resignation of the entire Board as a result of the decision of the Secretary of State for Industry to direct the NEB to transfer its shareholdings in Rolls Royce to him. The Secretary of State has made his announcement and, as a result, has caused the resignation of an entire board. That is unparalleled in our history. The effect upon the morale and, indeed, the existence of the staff of the National Enterprise Board has been seriously threatened. Its whole existence is uncertain. All this has been done before a new Bill that the right hon. Gentleman has introduced has become, or could become, law and that cannot take effect until it does become law. As a result, the whole status of the industry, including Rolls-Royce itself, is at risk. It is essential that we debate this as a matter of urgency.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The right hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely, the future of the National Enterprise Board in the light of the unparralleled resignation of the entire Board as a result of the decision of the Secretary of State for Industry to direct the NEB to transfer its shareholding in Rolls-Royce to him. I listened with care to the exchanges this afternoon. As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in the order, but to give no reasons for my decision. The House knows that I do not decide whether this matter is to be debated. The House has given me discretion to decide whether it is of such a character that it should be debated tonight or tomorrow night. That is the limit of the discretion that the House has given me.

I have to rule that the right hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.