HC Deb 18 July 1977 vol 935 cc1131-3
9. Mr. Michael Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what will be the total amount of the next tranche of funds which the National Enterprise Board will make available to British Leyland.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Gerald Kaufman)

My right hon. Friend is considering recommendations put to him by the National Enterprise Board and hopes to be able to make a statement to the House soon.

Mr. Marshall

Does the Minister agree that, following the departure of Lord Ryder, there is now an opportunity to get away from the personal identification of the NEB and British Leyland in all the terms that we have debated in the House? Will he further consider the suggestion I put to him last time that he should place in the Library a copy of the report from British Leyland to the NEB, if necessary taking out vital statistics which are commercially confidential?

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Gentleman's introductory words seemed to bear very little relevance to the Question. My right hon. Friend and I have made quite clear to the House that we shall make available to it all possible information, taking account of the need to maintain and pro- tect the commercial confidentiality of British Leyland.

Mr. George Rodgers

Has the NEB sought consent to proceed with the development of an assembly hall and foundry at British Leyland Bus and Truck Division at Leyland in Lancashire?

Mr. Kaufman

If my hon. Friend will contain himself a little longer, he may hear something to his advantage.

Mr. Richard Page

Is the Minister satisfied that the purchases of components and machine tools by British Leyland are on the open market and are at arm's length, or are any other purchases being promoted by the NEB?

Mr. Kaufman

British Leyland's purchases of machine tools are conducted on the basis of its commercial judgment. At the same time, I certainly lose no opportunity of making clear to British Leyland the desirability of its buying British whenever possible.

Mr. Skinner

Will my hon. Friend make sure that when the next tranche of funds goes to the NEB the signature is clearly identified?

Mr. Kaufman

Perhaps my hon. Friend would provide me with some of his address labels.

Mr. Hal Miller

Will the Minister tell the House whether any progress has been made with consideration of the way in which British Leyland is to be financed in the future, whether directly by Votes from this House or through NEB financing under its general allocation of Vote?

Mr. Kaufman

This matter is being very carefully considered at present. It is recognised that there are arguments on both sides. The hon. Gentleman has advanced an argument which has a good deal of cogency. When we make our statement to the House, that will be one of the matters covered.