British Leyland

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th June 1985.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East 12:00 am, 5th June 1985

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has had any recent discussions with the chairman of BL concerning future investment.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East

When will the Secretary of State realise that unemployment is now the principal concern throughout the country? Will he bear in mind that the motor industry is a major employer of labour, and therefore that new investment is vital? Does he agree that without it we shall hear further redundancy announcements such as that recently made by the Girling company in South Wales?

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Chingford

I am able to assure the hon. Gentleman that I am aware of all those matters and, of course, as he will be aware, the number of people in work in the United Kingdom has been increasing since the first quarter of 1983.

Photo of Geoffrey Robinson Geoffrey Robinson Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

I think that all hon. Members will have been reassured by the measured and constructive tone in which the Secretary of State has spoken of the importance to the whole of Britain—the components industry, the capital goods industry—of British Leyland, but we are looking to him now to put his money where his mouth is. In that respect, can he confirm that he shares the view that an essential part of British Leyland to play will be in the continued manufacture of the power train— engine and gearboxes—in this country, and will he back the Austin Rover new engine project?

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Chingford

I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that, if it comes to a question of money and mouth, he should recollect that since this Government have been in office we have directly contributed something like £1·2 billion to the restoration to viability of British Leyland. Beyond that, I would advise him not to go too far in praising me —it might upset his hon. Friends. I hope that I shall be able to make a statement before too long which will please all those of a constructive frame of mind.