HC Deb 18 May 1976 vol 911 cc1209-11
Q4. Mr. Cryer

asked the Prime Minister if he will visit Coventry.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Cryer

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if he does visit Coventry he should congratulate the workers of British Leyland on turning a loss last year into a half-yearly profit? Does he agree that the Opposition feel considerable chagrin over this fact, because they would have let this important export-winning firm go to the wall? Will my right hon. Friend also convey to the workers of British Leyland the fact that the board should not agree to appointments such as that of the chairman, Sir Richard Dobson, who, as he earns £22,500 a year for a part-time job, is hardly likely to inspire them—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is enough for the Prime Minister to be getting on with.

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that British Leyland's modest profit over the half year is encouraging, especially when it is contrasted with last year's results, even though there were some adventitious factors contributing to it. It is also encouraging that the number of days lost in industrial disputes has fallen, and will, I hope, continue to fall substantially. It is in the national interest that this venture should succeed, whatever prejudices hon. Members may have held before it began. I understand the other part of my hon. Friend's question. I have read it in different guises on at least three occasions. I suggest that he should now give over and encourage the chairman, whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting, to do even better in the next half year than in the last.

Mr. Lane

Is the Prime Minister aware that in places like Coventry there is bound to be anxiety about the threat to United Kingdom passport holders in Africa? Some of us who had to visit such places on the last occasion that we had an influx of Asians are only too well aware of this fact. Will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government will take all possible political, diplomatic and economic action to dissuade the Malawian Government from upsetting the orderly phased movement—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are getting back to the old dispute about whether hon. Members need to put Questions on the Order Paper at all, or whether they should throw questions out of the blue to the Prime Minister. The hon. Member is stretching things in trying to link Malawi with Coventry.

Mr. Faulds

If and when the Prime Minister visits the West Midlands, will he take the opportunity to make a major utterance on the acceptance of a multiracial society in Britain, both to comfort the new Britons of our immigrant communities and to offset the damaging activities of a small number of local politicians who wish to stir up racialist antipathies in Britain's present economic climate?

The Prime Minister

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I came to the conclusion some time ago that Questions to the Prime Minister were a guessing game. I guessed the question of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane), but I thought it would arise on the question of a visit to Australia rather than on a visit to Coventry.

I shall certainly take every opportunity to state that what is necessary in this country is a multi-racial society, fully developed and fully integrated. In relation to the entry of United Kingdom passport holders from the Commonwealth or other countries, I made my contribution in 1968. I was heavily attacked, but I believe my action has regulated the flow.

I spoke to Dr. Banda about this subject when I was there a year ago and I am satisfied from what he said then that there will be no great exodus from Malawi, though he intends to go ahead with the Africanisation of the country. If he keeps to the undertaking that he gave me, I do not think we need fear a large exodus.