HC Deb 22 May 1978 vol 950 cc1107-8
24. Mr. Madden

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his Department's policy in respect of the Lucas Aerospace workers' proposals for product diversification in that company.

Mr. Kaufman

Ministers have consistently welcomed the initiative of the Lucas Aerospace shop stewards in preparing constructive proposals for the future of their company.

Mr. Madden

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is entirely unacceptable for Lucas Aerospace to be expanding abroad while it is contracting at home, closing plants in Liverpool, Bradford and Shipley and smashing up the foremost design teams in the world? Does he believe that such actions run contrary to the national interest, and will he intervene to point out the national interest to the firm and that it should act in a way that is consistent with our best employment interests?

Mr. Kaufman

I have done so. I have discussed these matters with Lucas Aerospace since it announced its proposals for redundancies, and I have drawn particular attention to the possible impact of those closures on areas of high and chronic unemployment in the North of England. As a result of my intervention, my officials are in discussion with the company to see if anything can be done to assist my hon. Friend's area and Merseyside.

Mr. Alan Clark

Will the Minister agree that "pointing out" and "drawing attention to" are no substitute for the hard defence orders which would restore employment in this factory?

Mr. Kaufman

They are also no substitute for the Government having the ability, as we have in the case of nationalised industries, to have some close influence on what takes place. As always, the hon. Gentleman is drawing attention to the inadequacies of private enterprise.

Mr. Rooker

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Lucas Aerospace directors recently told some of my hon. Friends and myself that the Opposition spokesman on defence, the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill), was directly responsible for Lucas losing a contract in the aerospace field, which put workers out of work? Is my hon. Friend aware also that Lucas has a part stake in a workers' co-operative in Yugoslavia, where there is workers self-management, and that is not exactly reciprocated in this country? Will he put that also to the Lucas directors the next time he meets them?

Mr. Kaufman

I do not think that I could put it as well as my hon. Friend puts it, and I am grateful to him for drawing attention to the maverick activities of the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) and his lack of concern for the true interests of workers in Lancashire.