HC Deb 14 July 1975 vol 895 cc1032-3
2. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to complete his current negotiations with British Leyland.

The Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Eric G. Varley)

I take it that the hon. Gentleman has in mind the scheme of arrangement which is being considered by shareholders and stockholders today. Subject to the necessary approvals, I expect that the scheme will become operative on 11th August.

Mr. Jessel

That is not the only point I have in mind. During the current negotiations, will the Secretary of State make strong representations to British Leyland about the supply of buses and spare parts to London Transport? Is he aware that the failure to supply buses and spare parts has meant that scheduled London bus services have been cut, that the public have been seriously inconvenienced and that bus drivers are sitting idle because there are not enough buses for them to drive?

Mr. Varley

Of course, I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's comments to the attention of the British Leyland board. The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is meeting the London Passenger's Transport Committee tomorrow. I understand that that committee will raise some of these matters with him.

Mr. Molloy

Will my right hon. Friend stress the fact that the trade unions involved in the making and repairing of buses for London's transport and who can make a great contribution to improving its efficiency would like their case examined by the committee tomorrow? Can he, even at this late stage, make representations to ensure that they are invited?

Mr. Varley

I do not know precisely what arrangements have been made for my hon. Friend to meet the deputation, but I shall certainly consider the point raised by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Tom King

As £20 million has been lost in the past month through strikes in British Leyland—a company whose essential borrowings are now covered by public guarantees—does the Secretary of State regret that he did not get clearer undertakings from the union before investing public money in such a way?

Mr. Varley

I very much regret the industrial troubles of British Leyland and I hope that they will not be repeated. Certainly if the Ryder proposals are to go through, as we hope they will, there will have to be a commitment from the work force to reduce industrial action.

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