HC Deb 24 June 1974 vol 875 cc974-6
16. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement on the proposals for a workers' co-operative to run the Triumph motor cycle plant at Meriden.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Eric S. Heffer)

On 13th June my right hon. Friend met representatives of all those involved in the plan for the creation of a workers' cooperative at Meriden. Questions remaining to be resolved were identified and discussions between the parties concerned are continuing. Until these questions are resolved the Government cannot reach a decision on the provision of financial assistance to the co-operative.

Mr. Huckfield

I am grateful for the details given in that reply, but is my hon. Friend aware that with the loyalty of the work force, the international reputation of the name of Triumph and, above all, a guaranteed market in the United States, there are some rather unique ingredients for the success of this co-operative? Does he not agree that something such as the co-operative will be necessary to maintain the production and export record of the British motor cycle industry as well as provide the Labour Party with a unique opportunity to experiment with some of the proposals recently enshrined in our Green Paper "The Community and the Company"?

Mr. Heffer

My hon. Friend will accept that it is recognised that it is a unique situation in regard to these important workers, but at this stage I cannot go beyond the point I made in my reply. However, I assure him that all the points he has raised are clearly understood and are being taken into consideration by the Government in relation to this matter.

Mr. Tomlinson

I thank my hon. Friend for what he has said, but will he bear in mind the extreme urgency of a decision being made as quickly as possible because of the problem relating to motor cycles in stock at Meriden and the difficulty of access to the American market if a decision is not made very speedily?

Mr. Heffer

My hon. Friend can rest assured that we understand the urgency of the matter. I should point out that we inherited this situation. We have acted very quickly in this matter compared with the long delays which previously took place, and we will make a decision at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Can the hon. Gentleman assure the House that as the company has already received £3.7 million under the Industry Act no decision will be taken to increase the amount of taxpayer subsidisation of this firm without the prior approval of the House of Commons?

Mr. Heffer

We are talking about a co-operative which has not received any money whatsoever from the Government or from any other body concerned. If the hon. Gentleman is talking about the Norton-Villiers-Triumph firm, that is an entirely different company; it has received financial aid under the Industry Act brought in by his Government. Every organisation has the right to make application for aid if this is thought to be essential.

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