§ 13. Mr. Michael Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether, pursuant to his reply in the Official Report, 5th April 1978, column 420, he will now make a statement on British Road Services.
§ 23. Mr. Viggers
asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether, pursuant to his reply in the Official Report, Wednesday 5th April 1978, column 420, he will now make a statement on British Road Services.
§ Mr. William Rodgers
I understand that the NFC agreed that this year's BRS management conference should be held in Las Palmas because it was a congenial place to go to, and good value for money.
§ Mr. Roberts
Does the Secretary of State not consider that the Las Palmas trip to some degree tarnishes the reputation of a management board which has been very successful? Does not he further consider that on the rare occasions when 225 a nationalised industry feels that it has something to celebrate, it should do so in the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. Rodgers
I do not agree. We have to enjoy ourselves sometime. If, as the hon. Member says, British Road Services is doing a good job of work, if it is earning a substantial profit, and if the management and workers are doing a first-class job, it is better that they should have a weekend in Las Palmas than in Cardiff, for example.
§ Mr. Ronald Atkins
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the efforts that are being made in the Government by various Cabinet Ministers and by people outside to initiate a campaign to buy British? Is it not a bad start for us to hear from the Secretary of State that it is all right to buy foreign?
§ Mr. Rodgers
I do not agree at all. I must be firm about this. Most of us travel abroad from time to time, for good reason. It does not mean that we do not like staying at home or buying British. Large numbers of people go abroad for holidays. Good luck to them. If this helps to motivate a nationalised industry, I see nothing wrong with it whatsoever.
§ Mr. Norman Fowler
Surely the Secretary of State is ignoring the fact that over the last few years taxpayers have given a great deal of money to the National Freight Corporation. Would it not be better if it had a more economical conference and sought to repay some of our money?
§ Mr. Rodgers
The hon. Member displays a pretty uptight attitude to this matter. If there is only a small difference in cost between going to Las Palmas and going to Cardiff, NorthWest—I know that there are other parts of Cardiff to which this consideration would not apply—I see no reason why the members of the management of BRS should not go there if, in their managerial judgment, it makes best sense.