Reeve Burgess

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th June 1991.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 5th June 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will meet representatives of the work force of Reeve Burgess to discuss the setting up of a co-operative for the manufacture of coaches in the constituency of Bolsover.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Trade and Industry)

I have no plans at present to meet representatives of the work force of Reeve Burgess to discuss the setting up of a co-operative.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Minister should be ashamed of himself. Reeve Burgess is a company which manufactures buses and coaches. It is a winner, with profits of £60,000 again this April. The chances are that in May its profits will be roughly that amount. Orders are still coming in. That factory would continue, were it not for the Government's inflationary policy and asset stripping by Plaxton. If the Government can find money to bale out Rover and British Aerospace and to take those companies' troubles off their hands, they have a duty to find the money for the 180 workers at Reeve Burgess so that they can keep their 100-year-old factory going. Will the Minister pull his finger out and get something done?

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Trade and Industry)

Although the closure is regretted, it is part of a rationalisation of bus manufacturing capacity by the parent company, Plaxton. Production is to be transferred to its parent plant at Scarborough. I notice that the hon. Gentleman's original question laid great stress on the need to set up a co-operative to deal with that problem. Has he forgotten the lessons of co-operatives in the 1970s? Scottish Daily News ate its way through £1·2 million of taxpayers' money, Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering ate its way through £4·2 million of public money, and Meriden ate its way through £15 million of public money. I hope that Opposition Front-Bench Members will take this opportunity to say that they reject the neanderthal political thinking represented by Bolsover man, which represents the concepts of the 1970s on co-operatives and Bennery in all its guises.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I call Mr. Dickens, but the question must be about Bolsover.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

Yes, indeed, Mr. Speaker. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Minister has reminded the House that, under the Labour Government, millions of pounds of taxpayers' money was given to co-operatives and never repaid. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is far better to leave those matters to the private sector than to sink taxpayers' money into co-operatives?

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Trade and Industry)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am still waiting to hear whether the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) will use this opportunity to say that he rejects the failed policies of the 1970s. Those policies have failed before and will fail again.