HC Deb 09 November 1970 vol 806 cc6-7
3. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will now make a statement on the future of the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation.

Mr. John Davies

I have nothing to add to my statement of 30th October.—[Vol. 805; c. 564–71.]

Mr. Hamilton

Did the right hon. Gentleman read the assessment of the situation in the Business Supplement of the Sunday Times yesterday, which said that there was no possible organisation to take the place of the I.R.C.; and that Mr. Jim Slater, well known to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, had said that it was important that there should be some organisation other than market forces to take care of the situation in relation to strategic firms such as Rolls-Royce? What other organisation has the right hon. Gentleman in mind?

Mr. Davies

A number of organisations, particularly in the City of London, have an active rôle in industrial mergers. It is true to say that, among the numbers of industrial mergers that have taken place over recent years, the vast proportion have been undertaken by bodies other than the I.R.C. It would, therefore, be wrong to imagine that there is a lack of organisations which specialise in this field of work. I believe that the disappearance of the I.R.C. will pose new problems for these organisations, but I very sincerely trust they will be able to face them.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Would it be welcome to my right hon. Friend if some of the major institutional shareholders in the City of London woke up to their responsibility and sought to exercise a genuine supervisory function?

Mr. Davies

I am sure that institutional shareholders in the City of London will have noted what my hon. Friend said and will be acting upon it.

Mr. Benn

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether he, as Minister, would be prepared to entertain from firms like Rolls-Royce, referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), proposals for support where the City was not able or ready to give financial help, and where there was a national strategic interest in the continuation of the firm?

Mr. Davies

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware, none better, that in the case of Rolls-Royce there are already arrangements concerned with launching aid, in relation to aero engines, which provide for facilities to be given by the Government. These can always be contemplated in the event of such need.