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British Leyland (Bathgate)

Volume 81: debated on Wednesday 19 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if will make a statement on his most recent discussions with British Leyland about the future of the Bathgate commercial vehicles plant.

British Leyland tells me that discussions are continuing to try to find a purchaser for the engine plant, although some earlier interest has receded. I understand that approaches have been made to British Leyland about developing the site for alternative use. The company has made it clear that if there is a purchaser for the engine plant, any alternative use for the site must ensure the continuation of the engine manufacturing facility.

May I ask the Minister a question, of which notice has been given to his office for a considered reply? Will the Scottish Office help West Lothian district council, Lothian regional council and Bathgate area support enterprises to obtain co-operation from Leyland for the conversion of the Bathgate premises to accommodate incoming manufacturing industry?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of the question. First, I emphasise that Locate in Scotland has carried out the most comprehensive promotion ever undertaken for a single site, in addition to the Government's general role in improving the climate for industry in the area following the working party's report. The initiative for specific uses of the premises must lie with those who have proposals to put to Leyland. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman that my office stands ready to be involved in any discussions on such specific proposals.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the new range of commercial vehicles made by Leyland Vehicles has been amazingly successful, and that that is evidence of the great changes in productivity and efficiency of management and, above all, in the work force, and of the Government's commitment to British Leyland in the interests of the British public as a whole?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. There is no doubt that British Leyland has made substantial strides. The problem regarding Bathgate is that British Leyland has more than enough capacity at its Leyland plant to accommodate even a substantially increased demand for trucks.