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Aircraft Industry

Volume 890: debated on Monday 21 April 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what further consultation he has had with management of the British Aircraft Corporation since publishing his proposals to nationalise the British aircraft industry.

My right hon. Friend has studied the comments from the management of the British Aircraft Corporation on his proposals and discussed these with the chairman and board members.

Is the Minister aware—certainly his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry is aware—that the present position is that his right hon. Friend talks almost exclusively to the trade unions and ignores the management? Although I realise the links between the unions and the Government, is not the Minister aware that the attitude over the past few months has caused concern, not to say demoralisation, amongst middle and senior management of the British Aircraft Corporation? Will he give an assurance that in future he will spend at least as much time talking to management as he does to the trade unions to try to retain what is left of the previously good relationship between management and unions?

The hon. Gentleman is talking nonsense when he suggests that my right hon. Friend has not fully consulted a large number of managerial bodies on this issue. He is also quite wrong when he tries to stir up the idea of discontent. The proposals for public ownership have wide support among the work force, and that includes the distinct elements of middle management, who also strongly backs these proposals.

Has the Secretary of State any plans to meet all sections of the work force at BAC Weybridge? So far, he has studiously avoided coming to that particular BAC location.

My right hon. Friend has not studiously avoided—to use the hon. Gentleman's phrase—meeting the persons whom the hon. Gentleman mentions. I assure him that the organising committee which we hope will be set up shortly after Second Reading, if the House so approves, will take the opportunity to have further meetings with the kind of persons to whom the hon. Gentleman has alluded.

Do the Government still believe that this legislation will be on the statute book in this Session of Parliament? Further, will the hon. Gentleman comment upon the hardship which may be faced, in view of the present compensation terms, if the legislation is not proceeded with and if shareholders, therefore, receive no compensation for the investment they would be expected to continue to make for a period longer than that originally intended?

I am very glad to welcome the hon. Gentleman's strong and warm support for legislation this Session, and I am glad to assure him that I have no reason to believe that he will be disappointed.