HC Deb 22 November 1960 vol 630 cc966-7
31. Mr. Langford-Holt

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, before considering exchange control consent to Ford Motors of Detroit to extend their control of Ford Motors of Dagenham to 100 per cent., he will seek an undertaking that Fords of Detroit will not use their control to prevent the British company from trading in the same way as other British companies, and will also refrain from the exercise of that control for political purposes contrary to the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I would remind my hon. Friend that Fords of Detroit already have effective control of Ford Motors of Dagenham; and the past trading record of the Dagenham Company, while this control has existed, speaks for itself. I have, however, been assured by the American Ford Company that they have no intention whatever of preventing the Dagenham Company from continuing to trade as hitherto in the same way as other British Companies. If any issues of a political nature should arise in the future they will of course have to be resolved between Governments rather than by the industrial companies.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Would not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it was undesirable that the American Government should so bring pressure on Fords of Dagenham that they were not allowed to export tractors to China which, whatever one may think of that as a commercial proposition, was part of the policy of the Government? In view of the immense defence importance of this factory, would not my right hon. and learned Friend consider getting further undertakings that this pressure would not again—I use the word "again" advisedly—be used?

Mr. Lloyd

Today is the first time I have heard of that suggestion. In the past few days I have heard a good many suggestions about what has happened regarding Fords at Dagenham, but this is the first time I have heard of that.

Mr. H. Wilson

Since this was raised yesterday in the debate and not replied to, are we to take it from the answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he has now a clear assurance that Fords of Detroit will not interfere with the trading freedom of Fords of Dagenham in the way in which it did with Fords of Canada?

Mr. Lloyd

Regarding Fords of Canada, I am not at all certain that the facts are as the right hon. Gentleman said. I think that is a matter of some considerable doubt. What I do say is that if there is any attempt to take into account political considerations of this sort, it seems to me that is a matter for the Government.