HC Deb 15 January 1976 vol 903 cc581-2
Q4. Mr. Stanley

asked the Prime Minister whether he will be taking the chair at the next meeting of the National Economic Development Council.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Stott) on 25th November, Sir.

Mr. Stanley

Will the Prime Minister explain to the NEDC the significance of the fact that the voluntary redundancies at Linwood are substantially in excess of the compulsory redundancy programme envisaged by the Government? Does not this mean that the confidence expressed by the Government in the viability of the new Chrysler is being totally disproved by the Chrysler workers, who are voting with their feet, and that there has been a serious misdirection of public funds by the pouring in of millions of pounds to protect jobs at Linwood that the workers are now showing, in the clearest possible way, they do not want?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has made an interesting speech, but I do not accept a single premise in it. Nor is his view shared by the TUC or NEDC. His original Question related to the NEDC.

Mr. Les Huckfield

On the subject of industrial strategy in the car industry; will my right hon. Friend accept that while I welcome the Government's commitment to British Leyland and Chrysler, the injection of public money into these two corporations will not necessarily ensure that we always have the sort of car industry that many of us would like to see? Will my right hon. Friend do his best to ensure, through the NEDC and other offices, that we work out a strategy for the future of the British motor car industry, especially so that we can have cars at the smaller end of the range made in this country?

The Prime Minister

I absolutely agree with what my hon. Friend has said. He mentioned the NEDC and the NEB. There have been very significant changes in British Leyland since the action taken with the majority support of this House. Last year, we suffered in the motor car and other industries from a very serious lack of new investment. This is now going ahead. There are still problems in our own car industry, including productivity, overmanning and the number of cars produced per year by each worker. Actions taken in relation both to Chrysler and British Leyland are designed greatly to increase productivity—a matter with which the previous Government never concerned themselves at all. Action is now being taken and productivity is increasing markedly.

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