HC Deb 02 April 1979 vol 965 cc928-9
13. Mr. Sainsbury

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement on the present arrangements for consultation between the National Economic Development Office and the National Enterprise Board.

Mr. Varley

This is a matter for the Office and the Board. However, Sir Leslie Murphy is a member of the National Economic Development Council and representatives of individual NEB companies sit on a number of sector working parties.

Mr. Sainsbury

Is the Secretary of State aware that a NEDC working party recently complained about the lack of cooperation from the NEB, particularly in respect of Inmos, and suggested that the NEB should provide the NEDC with at least as much information as a private sector company would? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree?

Mr. Varley

Yes, Sir. I agree that it should provide as much information as private sector companies do, and it is my understanding that it does. Perhaps in some respects it provides more, because of the very nature of that organisation. The NEB is linking very closely with the sector working parties in its overall strategy, particularly in electronics. I know that there was an initial complaint from the sector working party dealing with electronics about the Inmos project, but I have been told by the chairman of that sector working party, Mr. Eric Hammond, that it is now completely satisfied with the arrangements for consultation.

Mr. Madden

Is my right hon. Friend concerned about the number of senior managements of firms in the textile industry that have refused to meet NEDC officials and trade union representatives to discuss the industry's future strategy? Secondly, will my right hon. Friend do more to ensure that the NEB is directly involved to provide alternative work to workers from the textile industry who face the loss of jobs over the next few years?

Mr. Varley

If my hon. Friend will send me details about the companies that have reluctance in co-operating with the NEDC working party, I shall certainly look into that matter. As to the impact of the NEB in textile areas, it is certainly our wish that the NEB's role in the regions should be strengthened. We are hoping to take steps over the next few months to see that that comes about.