Skip to main content

British Leyland

Volume 893: debated on Monday 9 June 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give his latest estimates for the numbers of people employed and the capital investment required in British Leyland for the next three years.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give his latest estimate of the investment and employment needs of British Leyland.

Sir Don Ryder's report about British Leyland, which the Government have accepted as a basis for future policy towards that company, sets out estimates of the company's future capital expenditure requirements. The company's future employment needs will be a matter for discussion between the work force and the management.

Does the Minister agree that sums coming from the Government can be raised only by taxation imposed upon private individuals and private firms, and that the burden of that increased taxation is likely to drive many private individuals and private firms out of business? Further, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that as a result more jobs will be lost by this support operation than may be preserved by it in the short term?

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. The firm in question is responsible for £500 million worth of exports, upon which our capacity to continue as a major manufacturing nation depends. A large number of jobs are at stake both in British Leyland and in the various sub-contracting firms. I believe that what we have done in deciding to jobs and re-equip British Leyland for the future was right. I wish that the CBI, in its general approach to our industrial policy—whatever the general criticisms in any individual instance—would recognise that the firm, including the professional management, sees the merit of what we are putting forward. I wish that this approach to British Leyland had found a much wider favour among British industrialists.

Will my right hon. Friend make a statement on the important question of industrial democracy and worker participation—a matter touched upon but not developed in the Ryder Report?

My hon. Friend has heard my comments about industrial democracy. It is an important idea. It is a wind of change blowing through British industry. I do not believe that it can be captured and frozen into a single manifesto statement or clause in an Act of Parliament. In general, what is happening is that the people who invest their lives in industry expect to have as much control as those who invest their money. Therefore, I am in full accord with the general proposition advanced by my hon. Friend.

Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the decision to give long-term investment to British Leyland and also reconsider giving short-term loans to British Leyland, so encouraging the firm to stand on its own feet and conduct its own financing?

I do not think that that general proposition relates very closely to the problems of a major world motor car company—a company which, as the Ryder Report made clear, has suffered a systematic decline in investment and a company which requires substantial sums of public money to get itself on its feet again. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's proposition is either sensible or realistic.