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British Leyland

Volume 35: debated on Monday 17 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will place an edited copy of BL's corporate plan for 1983 in the Library.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has now received the new corporate plan for BL; and if he will present it to the House.

British Leyland's 1983 corporate plan is at present being studied and the Government's decision will be announced in due course. At that time I expect to be able to make available to the House a report by British Leyland on its recent performance and details of the corporate plan.

In view of the widespread concern at reports that British Leyland is proposing to get 30 per cent. of its components from abroad, will the Minister tell the House whether he has had any discussions with either British Leyland or the component industry? Is he satisfied that our component makers are unable to meet BL's requirements? If so, will he consider a scheme to ensure that they can produce satisfactory components?

That is understandably an issue of some controversy in the west midlands. British Leyland has taken a tough stance with the component suppliers, because it has been charged with breaking even at the earliest possible opportunity. I am delighted to say that the signs are that it will do so in 1983. Having said that, we should encourage component suppliers, not just in the west midlands, but elsewhere, to approach the Department of Industry to see whether there are any ways in which the Department's various schemes can help them to reduce their costs to produce components at a price that meets British Leyland's demands.

Does the Minister accept that his reply does nothing to reassure either management or workers in the west midlands? The long period over which they have had the corporate plan for British Leyland has given rise to considerable uncertainty, not only on the issue raised by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove and Redditch (Mr. Miller) but on British Leyland's structure. The time that is being taken is having a major effect on the work force and the structure of British Leyland—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is taking up all the time available. I was hoping to call two more questions.

When will the Minister make a statement about the projected break-up of British Leyland? When will he make an official statement, rather than issuing a statement abroad, about the Honda link?

There is no question at this stage of a projected break-up of BL. It is charged with breaking even, and hopes to do so in 1983. It is also charged with making profits and introducing private sector capital at the earliest possible opportunity.

The news is not all bad. The hon. Gentleman, of all people, should know that the increase in productivity at Longbridge has been especially spectacular and that Cowley is improving dramatically, with another 1,000 jobs being created there. Jaguar is doing excellent work in both quality and volume. We are confident that the new style of management at BL will continue and that the job prospects of its workers will be enhanced.