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Motor Industry

Volume 927: debated on Monday 7 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what studies he has initiated with British Leyland and the NEB as to the optimum size of a factory in the British motor industry measured by the total number of people employed in such a factory; and how many factories in British Leyland are currently larger than the optimum size.

Is the Minister aware that his reply is rather unsatisfactory? He might put his mind to the fact that it is clear to me that as factories get larger there is a danger of increasing alienation between workers and management. I put this thought to the Minister. It may be that part of British Leyland's continuing difficulties lies in the very large number of people employed in British Leyland factories, and that the Minister, the NEB, and the British Leyland Board should reflect on the cautionary tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The hon. Gentleman has raised a question of some importance. However, I am sure he will know from his own studies that there are not unanimous views along the lines he has suggested. If he examines such books as "Economies of Scale in a Manufacturing Industry" by C. F. Pratten and "The Motor Industry: An Economic Survey" by D. G. Rhys, he will find that there are differing analyses. If the hon. Gentleman goes abroad to Germany, he will find that the view held there is entirely contrary to that which he has put forward, and in Japan very much more so. It is not that I dispute the views of the hon. Gentleman, but they are not proven.