HC Deb 13 July 1978 vol 953 cc1727-8
Q4. Mr. Terry Walker

asked the Prime Minister when he last met the heads of nationalised industries.

The Prime Minister

I do not see the heads of nationalised industries collectively, but I meet them individually from time to time, as necessary.

Mr. Walker

Will my right hon. Friend consider having talks with his noble Friend Lord Beswick, chairman of British Aerospace, because there are problems that need to be ironed out about the future production programme of British Aerospace? Many of us on this side of the House welcome the go-ahead for the HS146, but, as the Prime Minister well knows, decisions have to be made about our future collaborative programme with Europe or the Americans and talks with Lord Beswick would certainly help this decision along.

The Prime Minister

I can assure my hon. Friend that the Secretary of State for Industry is in close touch with Lord Beswick on these issues. I welcome the debate that my hon. Friend initiated on Monday. I read it with very great interest and thought that there was a great deal of expert information contained in it which was of help to the Government. We shall reach conclusions on these matters, but negotiations are going on with both European and American aircraft companies.

Mr. Tapsell

Does the Prime Minister's statement made earlier this afternoon that the prices index is going down apply to the products of nationalised industries, or is that statement about to be repudiated, like his earlier assurance to me that the cost of living index would never rise again into double figures?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is misleading once more. He forgets the coda with which I ended—namely, provided that we stick with our existing policies. Why does he not quote me in full if he quotes me at all? As for the retail price index, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wait until tomorrow to see what figure is published. We shall then know whether the rate of inflation is moving up or down. I have a feeling that, contrary to the national interest but in accordance with their normal prejudices, Opposition Members will be disappointed to find that the rate of inflation is still going down. Whether we can continue to keep it at that level depends upon following the policies that we have enunciated, which I am now struggling to do without any help from the hon. Gentleman.