HC Deb 09 November 1970 vol 806 cc18-9
15. Mr. Carter

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make an official visit to the Longbridge car works of British Leyland.

Mr. Ridley

My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so at present but it is an important plant that would naturally be borne in mind when programmes of visits by Ministers of the Department are being considered.

Mr. Carter

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that it will be viewed with disappointment in the Long-bridge works, because the shop stewards and other workers with whom I spoke over the weekend, after the memorable speech of the Secretary of State last Wednesday, wanted to question him closely about the problems of industry, particularly those of the car industry? Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that he could have gained a great deal of information from the people in the car industry—management included—during such a visit with regard to the rather severe legislation now being imposed in some foreign countries that adversely affects the export performance of the British car industry?

Mr. Ridley

It is the hon. Gentleman's job to question my right hon. Friend. As he has spent 10 days in these works, I am sure that he is very well equipped to do so. He will understand that we operate a representative system in Britain and that he has full facilities for pursuing his opportunities in the Chamber.

Mr. Barnett

The hon. Gentleman will doubtless be aware of the rumours that are circulating in the City and elsewhere about Government policy to bring about bankruptcies amongst companies of a large size. This company is one of those that has been mentioned. Will the hon. Gentleman kill that rumour?

Mr. Ridley

The Government hope that the number of bankruptcies will be kept to the absolute minimum. However, the situation we inherited from the last Government is not very favourable in this respect.