HC Deb 09 February 1981 vol 998 cc590-1
10. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he now expects to see progress in industrial revival within the West Midlands.

The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Michael Marshall)

The industrial revival of the West Midlands depends on reducing inflation, on the drive and enterprise of management, and on the understanding and co-operation of work forces.

Mr. Winnick

Will the Minister get away from those platitudes? When will he realise that so much of industry in the West Midlands and in the Black Country districts is being devastated as a result of Government policies? There are redundancies and closures daily and extensive short-time working. If the Government's policies have proved unsuccessful, why not change them? Why not change the dogma and allow our industry to prosper?

Mr. Marshall

The hon. Gentleman ignores a number of factors that he should take into account in the interests of achieving a balance. The reduction of IDCs and the 100 per cent, grants for approved clearance schemes are only two of many measures that have had an effect on the West Midlands. There is also the enterprise zone at Dudley, which is not very far away from the hon. Gentleman's constituency. The hon. Gentleman talks about platitudes, but he must realise that the prime target is the defeat of inflation, which will affect the West Midlands as well as everywhere else.

Mr. Budgen

Does my hon. Friend agree that the new but important problem in both the steel and the motor industries, which are important to the West Midlands, is that the Government must either reduce taxpayers' subsidies to these industries or give yet further and larger subsidies to the private sectors of the industries, so that they may compete against the State sector, which is in receipt of vast subsidies?

Mr. Marshall

The question that my hon. Friend poses is in a sense a false one. Much depends on the prospects of the companies that feature in his question. However, he is right to stress, if we are talking about help to the West Midlands, that it was because of the wider implications for the West Midlands and the entire components industry that the BL decision was taken.

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson

While Labour Members welcome the decision on BL, will the Minister confirm that later today his right hon. Friend is due to meet a delegation from Peugeot at the highest level which may have a direct bearing on the situation in the West Midlands for Talbot? Can we have an undertaking from the Minister that he will tackle the approach from Peugeot with a view to using the same strength of Government purchasing power and aid as we did with Datsun to encourage Peugeot to maintain an investment here?

Mr. Marshall

The hon. Member is somewhat adrift. That is a different question but the decisions that stem from the conversations with Peugeot are for the company to make.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

In the new deal with the Nissan company, will the Minister not overlook the great pool of highly trained and skilled labour in the motor industry in the West Midlands which could produce a real success for another car manufacturer, which would also bring work to the hard pressed components industry which, similarly has a large pool of highly skilled labour?

Mr. Marshall

I am sure that the Nissan company will take careful note of my hon. Friend's remarks. He has reinforced some of the positive aspects of this successful inward investment.