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National Enterprise Board

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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6.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he will meet next the chairman of the National Enterprise Board.

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects next to meet the board of the new National Enterprise Board.

I meet Sir Arthur Knight quite often, and I shall meet the full board soon.

Will the right hon. Gentleman remind the chairman of the NEB about the board's regional responsibilities? Does not he agree that the best way to show that it is living up to those responsibilities would to locate the Inmos factory in a special development area?

I do not think that there is any need to remind Sir Arthur or the new board of regional responsibilities. The decision on Inmos is for them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the NEB, when he meets it, that in no circumstances will he ever come to the House to say that the board is thinking of resigning before ascertaining whether it intends to do so? Will the right hon. Gentleman now apologise to the House for what he said about Rolls-Royce during the debate that we had on that subject?

In view of the horrifying and growing massive de-industrialisation of the British economy, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is a time for abandoning entrenched attitudes on all sides and for him to discuss with the chairman of the National Enterprise Board a series of selective interventions to shore up parts of British industry that we cannot afford to lose?

The process to which the hon. and learned Gentleman refers has been intensified over the years. That was so during the lifetime of the Labour Government, when the policy that he recommends was carried out in vain.

Will the right hon. Gentleman comment on the press reports that the new chairman of the National Enterprise Board is apparently about to advise him that in the remaining few weeks of the financial year, and after the Industry Bill receives Royal Assent, it would be foolish in the extreme to flog off assets in five or six important British industries?

The hon. Gentleman made his point of view plain in the most recent sitting of the Industry Bill in Committee. I am sure that the chairman of the NEB will have read his remarks.