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Motor Cycles

Volume 885: debated on Monday 3 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has yet taken a decision on the future of the motor cycle industry in this country; and if he will make a statement.

I have not yet made final decisions on this matter. Discussions continue with the parties concerned. I shall make a statement in due course.

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that, following the withdrawal of the objection by the Small Heath stewards and workers, the Meriden co-operative is now in a position to go ahead, and that if it is to go ahead it means that there must be a three-factory industry which, in turn, will require a considerably greater injection of public money? Therefore, what is the point that the Minister has not yet decided?

The hon. Gentleman is right. The trade unions in the firms are pressing for a three-factory solution, on the basis of public ownership, to provide the capital investment that has been notably lacking hitherto under the private ownership structure. We are now considering that matter. The withdrawal of the hesitations by the Small Heath workers to the Meriden co-operative is indeeed welcome news.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that many of my constituents have been on picket duty at this factory since September 1973? Will he also bear in mind that there is a need not to miss the American peak sales season for the second year running? My constituents are grateful for my right hon. Friend's sympathetic attitude, but will he now do all he can to expedite the start of production at Meriden?

I am aware that workers at Meriden have been very patient and have waited a long time, under conditions of real hardship, to establish their co-operative. I had hoped to be able to establish it in November, but was unable to do so at that time because of the industrial anxieties at Small Heath, which appear now to have been relieved.