HC Deb 07 July 1980 vol 988 cc1-2
1. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has any plans to introduce legislation to denationalise Cable and Wireless Limited.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Adam Butler)

In pursuit of their policy of introducing private sector capital into appropriate public holdings, the Government have been looking at the possibility of selling some of their shares in Cable and Wireless. The Government will consider legislation in the light of their eventual decision on the sale of shares.

Mr. Atkinson

I thank my hon. Friend for his encouraging reply, which I am sure will be welcomed not only by Conservative Members, but by the chairman and board of Cable and Wireless. In view of that company's considerable overseas business, will my hon. Friend assure the House that he will consult overseas client Governments before such legislation is introduced?

Mr. Butler

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. He is right to point to the international ramifications of the sale of shares in Cable and Wireless. I assure him that no final decision will be taken until the views of overseas Governments concerned have been obtained.

Mr. Ioan Evans

In view of the fact that the private sector is crying out for investment, and that manufacturing investment is decreasing, why are the Government choosing this time to sell off parts of the public sector? Will there be guarantees that there will not be decreased investment in Cable and Wireless?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Gentleman must not draw conclusions before a decision is reached. I hope that he has carefully listened to and studied my reply. There will he considerable benefit to the public sector borrowing requirement through the disposal of shares in companies such as Cable and Wireless, and that will be of great advantage to the private manufacturing sector.

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