Orders of the Day — Motor Vehicle Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:49 pm on 1st July 1981.

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Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge 8:49 pm, 1st July 1981

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Pawsey) is right to say that it exists in Japan. One of the justifications for pouring so much money into BL is to protect the jobs of the component manufacturers, of which I have so many in my constituency. In the end, to secure a long-term viable future, the component manufacturers want a sound and viable car industry that can stand on its own feet.

The crisis in the car industry is part of the crisis of British industry and part of the crisis of our nation. We are reaching the point of no return. If we do not survive this slump in better shape in manufacturing industry, there is little hope for us as a manufacturing nation. Have we, as a nation, with our great history and all the troubles that we have overcome, really lost the will to win? Can we have been the leaders in the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago only to be the laggards now? The motor industry should be the spearhead of British industry, leading not only in exports but in the home market.

An enormous responsibility rests on management, at all levels, to take care of its employees, to tell them what is happening and, above all, to praise them when they do well. English people will always respond in a crisis when the facts are put squarely to them. We are in a crisis now. The taxpayers' patience will soon become exhausted if still more enormous sums are demanded by BL.

The trade union leaders must consider the true long-term interests of the men, which I believe are the same as the interests of the nation. Stoppages at work, however short, must be a thing of the past. A supreme effort is now required in BL to lift productivity to much more competitive levels, including work on the new Metro and its brand new plant. The new designs must be of the finest. Salesmanship must be intelligent and vigorous. If all pull together in that great enterprise, BL could still surprise the world. We must devoutly pray that that change of heart will soon come about.