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British Leyland

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has yet received the British Leyland corporate plan.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has yet received any request from British Leyland for additional public funds; and if he expects to do so.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he proposes to make a statement to the House regarding the further financial requirements of British Leyland.

I received the BL 1980 corporate plan on 5 December. The plan envisages public funding additional to that already provided to BL. I am considering the BL proposals and shall make a statement to the House as soon as possible.

Since it has been announced that imports represent 60 per cent. of the British car market, what considerations will guide my right hon. Friend in his deliberations on the corporate plan?

In the light of my right hon. Friend's answer to my previous question, will he agree, as regards British Leyland, to facilitate purchase by the private sector of any manufacturing capacity at plants that the State cannot, or will not, run profitably?

I understand that British Leyland is ready to consider any proposition to purchase that makes commercial sense.

Is the Secretary of State aware that last week the management of British Leyland removed its franchise from a Norwich garage that is under new ownership and with which I am associated? Is he aware that the garage wished to increase its throughput of British Leyland cars from 20 to 500 a year but that British Leyland management labelled that garage as "too aggressive"? If that is the attitude of British Leyland management, will the Secretary of State assure us that no further taxpayers' funds go to British Leyland?

I was not aware of that, but my hon. Friend's question is entirely for the board of British Leyland. I am sure that members of that board will read what my hon. Friend has said.

Does "the national interest" include the problem of the thousands of people in Coventry who are to be made redundant?

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House when other motor manufacturers, such as Vauxhall, can expect fair competition from Leyland without the distorting effects of taxpayers' subsidies?

That is another factor in the considerations which the Government have to give.

Following my right hon. Friend's answers to the questions put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley), may I ask him to facilitate the sale of MG to those who might want to buy it?

I repeat that that is for the management of BL to consider. I understand that it has already had a meeting with the potential purchasers to discuss possibilities.