HC Deb 13 November 1978 vol 958 cc20-1
15. Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he next expects to meet the chairman of the National Enterprise Board.

Mr. Kaufman

My right hon. Friend meets the chairman very frequently.

Mr. Rooker

When my right hon. Friend next meets the chairman, will he ask him to institute an inquiry within the NEB into why the board bailed out Sir Richard Marsh's company, Allied Investments, earlier this year on what now appears to be untruths told by Sir Richard Marsh concerning the number of orders which he claimed the company had on the books? Is my right hon. Friend aware that the amount of money which that company has been paying in bribes in Arab countries far outweighs anything in which British Leyland was ever involved? Will my right hon. Friend confirm, and press this point upon the chairman of the NEB, that public money ought not to be used to bail out such seedy capitalists as Sir Richard Marsh?

Mr. Kaufman

I have seen the press article to which my hon. Friend draws attention. I have read it with great concern and have taken up the matter with the NEB. My hon. Friend would not expect me to comment further on the matter at this stage.

Mr. Hordem

In view of the series of disastrous investments which the NEB has made on its own acount, may I ask the Minister to consider replacing the present chairman by the new Lord Mayor of London, Sir Kenneth Cork, the liquidator?

Mr. Kaufman

The latest returns by the National Enterprise Board show that it made a profit on its investments.

Mr. Christopher Price

Returning to Allied Investments, may I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm that I wrote to him nearly two years ago about the state of this company, which has now been shown to have put forward a completely false prospectus? As the company spends its time making money in the Gulf States to undermine the National Health Service by building private nursing homes in this country, may I ask my right hon. Friend to have a good look at the NEB's policy in this area?

Mr. Kaufman

My hon. Friend has written to me about this matter and I have replied to him. I do not know whether he has received my reply yet, but it fully acknowledges his concern. There are certain elements in what he has said which, if he re-examines them, he will find are not justified. Nevertheless, I fully recognise his concern on this matter, which is shared by the Government.

Mr. McCrindle

Is it true that NEB funds at British Leyland are being used to provide for Leyland agents sales terms which are not available anywhere in the commercial market to any of its competitors, such as Ford? Is this a fair use of taxpayers' money?

Mr. Kaufman

If the hon. Gentleman has any evidence about what he regards as malpractice in Leyland, I shall be grateful if he will send it to me, when it will be looked into.