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Nationalised Industries

Volume 933: debated on Monday 13 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he next expects to meet the chairmen of nationalised industries for which he is responsible.

Will my right hon. Friend discuss with the chairmen the implications of the Daily Mail attack on British Leyland? Is it not obvious that this was a conspiracy against nationalised industries by the gutter Press, which used lies and forgery to try to topple the Labour Government in the hope of returning a Right-wing extremist Government headed by the Leader of the Opposition, whose silence over this whole sordid affair has been very conspicuous?

I have discussed the Daily Mail only with Lord Ryder, whom I asked to conduct an inquiry into the allegations. He has not reported to me yet, but he will do so in due course and I shall report to the House. I want to leave it at that.

Has the right hon. Gentleman discussed the NEDO Report on nationalised industries with the chairmen of the industries for which he is responsible? Are we to have the benefit of his Department's thinking on this matter, perhaps in the form of a White Paper?

I do not have ministerial responsibility for replying to that report, but I have discussed its wider implications with the chairmen of the industries for which I have responsibility. I have mixed views and there are mixed views generally about the recommendations. On the general question of industrial democracy, we have laid a Bill before the House that has received an unopposed Second Reading for an experiment in industrial democracy in the Post Office. The Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill included a clause laying a duty on the corporations to bring forward proposals within three months for industrial democracy, and Sir Charles Villiers has recently made proposals in respect of the British Steel Corporation. I understand that the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation and the TUC Steel Committee are likely to respond to them. Some good progress is being made.