HC Deb 29 April 1968 vol 763 c785
50. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Technology whether he will make a statement on the work situation at the Bristol Engine Division of Rolls Royce Limited, Coventry; and what are his plans to ensure that a high level of employment is maintained there.

Mr. Benn

The distribution of work between the various factories of the Rolls Royce Group is a matter for the commercial judgment of the management. However, I understand that the company is currently considering what measures should be taken to improve the workload at the Coventry factories in order to alleviate the current short-time working.

Mr. Edelman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the meantime there is considerable dissatisfaction inside this important factory owing to the fact that many men are on short time and there is a great deal of idle capacity at a time when much work is being subcontracted outside? Would my right hon. Friend look into this matter and try to arrange a better distribution of work so that Coventry can benefit from it?

Mr. Benn

I understand this difficulty very well, because in my constituency capacity I have exactly the same problem raised with me from the Bristol Siddeley Engine Division of Rolls Royce. As my hon. Friend will know if he has gone into this, spare capacity and spare manpower do not necessarily mean that it is possible to transfer work, which may be of a different kind, or terminate a subcontract exactly in time to make the transfer of work possible. My hon. Friend will appreciate that Rolls has already begun to help in this direction, but the firm itself will be intensely busy over the next ten years.