HC Deb 09 February 1981 vol 998 c592
12. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on progress in breaking up the corporate structure of BL; and what further discussions he has had with the chairman of BL.

Sir Keith Joseph

I told the House on 26 January that the intention of the BL board is to draw the operating units into four distinct businesses—BL Cars, Land-Rover, Unipart and the Leyland Group. The new organisation of the Leyland group was announced on 19 January. I have had no discussions with Sir Michael Edwardes since my announcement of funding for BL on 26 January.

Mr. Adley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that all pragmatic Conservatives will doubtless welcome the remarks of the Prime Minister in her speech last week that the Government will not hesitate to intervene from time to time in industry if they consider it to be necessary? In view of the enthusiasm with which my right hon. Friend has sought to intervene in British Aerospace and British Airways, to assist in what one might call privatisation, will my right hon. Friend show the same enthusiasm and undertake the same activities with some of the component parts of BL?

Sir Keith Joseph

We shall continue to leave judgments about the degree and timing of any sale of parts of BL to the management of BL.

Mr. Orme

Will the Secretary of State repudiate the damaging letter in The Times on Saturday from some of his hon. Friends about the selling of certain assets of British Leyland? Is he aware that that has already had a damaging effect on management morale in BL? Is it not time that the company was allowed to get on with the job and produce the cars and employment that is so essential?

Sir Keith Joseph

My hon. Friends are animated by the same desire as everyone else for the prospects of BL and all its parts. I hope that in their enthusiasm they will recognise that having appointed a management, the Government must leave it to the management to make the decisions.

Mr. Hal Miller

Will my right hon. Friend accept that the sale of currently profitable parts of BL would bring in train the possibility of a need for a greater subsidy for the other parts?

Sir Keith Joseph

Without going into those probabilities, I must repeat that the decisions are for management.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

In view of the impact of the Datsun project on BL, and the West Midlands area in particular, will the Secretary of State look seriously at the point made by his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) about the possibility—in view of the component base and the obvious advantages to the motor industry—of introducing a project of this sort to the West Midlands area?

Sir Keith Joseph

I must repeat that the decision on such matters is for Nissan. The company has undertaken a feasibility study. Its final decision is yet to be made.