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Cbi

Volume 977: debated on Monday 28 January 1980

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when last he met the Confederation of British Industry.

My right hon. Friend last met the CBI on 3 December 1979.

Is the Secretary of State not expecting to meet the CBI to consult it, and the Secretary of State for Employment, about the effects that recent court decisions are having on industrial relations, and hence on industry? Will he emphasise to the CBI that these decisions causing, as they do, understandable ill-will between the trade unions and the courts, are bad for the rule of law, bad for industrial relations and very bad for our industry?

My right hon. Friend will meet the CBI as he thinks appropriate, and, indeed, his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, if that is appropriate. The hon. and learned Gentleman heard what my right hon. Friend said about the most recent decision.

Is my hon. Friend aware that many member firms of the CBI are concerned that the steel strike will lead to a delay in the completion of new industrial premises that would have been completed by 1 August of this year and rank for regional development grant? Because of that delay will he extend the period?

I do not think that we can extend the period. What my hon. Friend says is correct. This is one of the many consequences of the strike.

When the Secretary of State next meets the chairman of the CBI, will he discuss the difference in treatment given to capital investment by nationalised industries compared with that given to private industries? Nationalised industries are not able effectively to finance their capital investment. For example, British Rail is required to take the whole cost of a ship within one year's cash limit instead of being able to finance it over several years.

I am not sure of the example on which my hon. Friend is drawing when he talks of one ship. As he knows, we are trying to establish the activities of the nationalised sector on a thoroughly commercial basis.

Following the hon. Gentleman's reply on regional aid, may I ask why the period cannot be extended to take into consideration the number of days of the strike? Why cannot the period be extended by that number of days?

If the hon. Gentleman is asking that every time we have a strike there should be an extension of the period, I have to tell him that that is not practicable. There is also the public expenditure consideration. As always, he and his hon. Friends are asking for more taxpayers' money to bail out an industry in circum stances such as we have in the present steel strike.