HC Deb 17 February 1981 vol 999 cc156-203
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

4.45 pm
Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

I beg to move, That this House deplores the Government's failure to take effective action to prevent the threatened closure of Talbot, Linwood, particularly in the light of the refusal of PSA/Citreon to fulfil the obligations undertaken by the firm in 1978, and expresses its grave anxiety at this latest example of the devastation which Government policies are imposing on manufacturing industry throughout the whole country. Last Wednesday's announcement came as a severe shock to the West of Scotland. It is, of course, futile to pretend that there have not been previous crises at Linwood. Nevertheless, it would be wrong for the House to underestimate the feelings of shock, dismay and anger that last Wednesday's announcement brought to the area. If this decision to close Talbot, Linwood is allowed to happen—we are arguing from the Labour Benches that it should not—it will represent the end of a hope for the building up of car manufacturing in Scotland.

There has been a certain amount of press comment—some of it, I am sorry to say, in Scotland itself—that suggests that Linwood was doomed from the start, that the original decision was a mistaken one, and that Linwood could never have succeeded. I repudiate that idea. In any case, the decision was that of a Conservative Government. In repudiating that suggestion I want to make clear to the House what the implications would be if it were true. It would be saying to Scotland "You do not have a prospect of obtaining this kind of industry. Regional policy does not work. We cannot make regional policy effective, and Scotland therefore must always be a kind of second-class area of the United Kingdom—and not only Scotland but a number of other areas".

The political implications of that would be very serious. I am glad to see that in a different context they were recognised by the Secretary of State for Employment in a speech at the weekend, when he said that the House and the country are concerned not only with the South-East corner of England but with what is happenng in the rest of the country. The only trouble about the Secretary of State for Employment is that although he says these things he is a member of a Government who do not take the necessary policy consequences into account and who are devastating the whole of this country's industry.

I have referred to the feeling of shock. There was also bitterness in the West of Scotland, because the unemployment situation there is absolutely grim. The Scottish situation is bad enough, with 12.7 per cent. unemployed at the latest count. In the Strathclyde region the figure is 15.1 per cent. What is more, male unemployment there is now no less than 17.5 per cent.—before the Linwood closure. I remind the House that 95 per cent. of the people employed in Linwood are male. In the West of Scotland we are going to see 4,800 people directly from Talbot, Linwood, and considerable numbers more—taking the total certainly to beyond 7,000—losing their jobs within a very short period and with the vast majority of them having no real hope of obtaining alternative jobs in the grim situation that exists there.

These figures for the whole of Strathclyde, appalling as they are, are overshadowed by the unemployment figures that will result from this closure in areas near the factory. In Paisley the unemployment rate is likely to go to 19 per cent.; in Johnstone the rate is likely to go to 23 per cent.; and in Linwood, immediately adjacent to the factory, the effect will be to take the rate to 40 per cent. That is the scale of the tragedy with which we are dealing in this debate.

Even so, it may be asked, why debate Linwood, why debate this closure when closures are occurring throughout the country every day, when yesterday the textile workers lobbied Members of Parliament, and when there is a crisis in the coal industry? Linwood has special circumstances attaching to it; it has a special history. I shall not go back over the whole of that history, but I want to remind the House and put on record what happened at the time of the rescue of Chrysler UK by the Labour Government in 1976.

At that time, Chrysler UK took on certain commitments to its manufacturing plants in this country. Those commitments were subsequently taken over in almost identical terms by Peugeot, when the factories were transferred to that organisation in 1978. The first commitment was that the plants in the United Kingdom should have equal treatment with those in the rest of the Chrysler, and subsequently the PSA, organisation. There were also specific commitments to keep open all the major manufacturing facilities, including Linwood. Thirdly, specific commitments were made—this was especially true of Linwood—to introduce new models to allow these manufacturing facilities to be fully utilised and to have an essential and necessary future. In the 1978 agreement it was recognised that there would need to be, as soon as possible, a replacement of the Avenger and Sunbeam models at the Linwood plant.

These commitments have not been kept. There has not been equal treatment of the United Kingdom manufacturing plants by the new owners. We now have the decision to close Linwood, which, again, is against the guarantee and commitment given, and for the past two years the commitment to introduce new models at Linwood has also not been kept.

I shall be told that over the past two years the economic circumstances have changed. Do we not know it in the House, and do we not know it in Scotland? We shall be told that the market has declined, that PSA has found it difficult to maintain, and has not maintained, its share in the United Kingdom industry. We shall be told that there is a general crisis in the European car industry and that there are special problems with the Iranian contract which are outside the control of PSA and the Government.

That is not the whole story. It is not the whole explanation or excuse for what is happening now. Government policy has contributed directly to the crisis in PSA, in Linwood and, indeed, in the whole car manufacturing industry and other United Kingdom industries.

I hope that the House recognises that this is not just a question of Linwood making losses. The rest of the United Kingdom plants of PSA are also making losses and, indeed, losses are being made in the PSA European operations. If, therefore, the consequences of the closure at Linwood are logically followed they will have alarming implications for the rest of the PSA operation.

Our first criticism of the Government is that we do not believe their protestations that they have tried hard to save Linwood. That is the Government's case, and that is what the Secretary of State for Scotland will tell us this afternoon. He will tell us that they tried, that they offered inducements, but that still the company would not stay. If that is true it represents a U-turn by the Government. The Tories voted against the Labour Government's rescue of Chrysler UK. If their policy had been accepted at that time Linwood would have gone in 1976, and so would Coventry. The whole of the Chrysler operation would have gone at that time.

When the Government tell us how desperately anxious they are to maintain Linwood or any other operation in the United Kingdom they are not believed, because their industrial policy is completely schizophrenic. They go through the motions of offering inducements, but they do not believe in what they are doing, and when the going gets rough they give up and do not push their policy of inducement, which means that they do not enter into negotiations with sufficient determination to bring them to a successful conclusion. That can be illustrated by this case, when we consider the contemptuous way in which the company has treated Ministers.

We were told that there was a meeting between the Secretary of State for Industry, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the managing director of the French company, Mr. Parayre, on Monday of last week and that certain propositions were put by the Government to the company. The Government were told that the company would think seriously about these propositions and let them know the result. We were told by the Minister of State, Department of Industry last Wednesday—the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland confirmed it—that the Government's first news of the French company's decision was conveyed to them only on Wednesday morning. Incidentally, the national trade union officials were put in exactly the same position.

The letters to Members of Parliament representing the Talbot constituencies were posted by the company on the Tuesday. The notices to workers telling them that the plant would close down were certainly printed on Monday, and in my view must have been printed before that weekend. Therefore, when the meeting was being held on Monday the decision had already been taken and the dismissal notices had already been printed, yet the company, having gone through the motions of the meeting on Monday, did not even have the courtesy to tell the Government that it would announce the closure on Wednesday morning.

Either the Government knew from a hint given to them, or they were told on Monday, that the decision had been taken—in which case Ministers have been guilty of misleading the House—or they did not know, in which case they have been treated by the company with the same kind of contempt that the company subsequently demonstrated towards Strathclyde regional council, which twice sent the company polite and moderate requests for a meeting and was told by the company that it would not give the council the courtesy of a meeting, although it represents a wide body of opinion, including the Scottish CBI, in the West of Scotland.

How do the Government respond to this gross discourtesy? We were told in a statement in the House last Wednesday that it was all terribly sad; it was a great pity, but we had to accept it; it was a commercial decision; there was nothing that we could do about it. We know the Secretary of State for Scotland. We are familiar with his excuses. He is always telling us how hard he is trying and we know how, at the end of the day, his efforts end in failure. Last week we had a refinement—he was not here at all—but normally we have the old familiar story from the Secretary of State.

Let us suppose that the position were reversed and that a British company in France had met the French Government on Monday, and then, without telling them, had announced on Wednesday that it intended to close a major plant in France. Would the French Minister meekly accept that, and how very difficult and tragic it all was? Of course not.

We have been given a demonstration of the lack of will that the Government have shown throughout. Nothing in Wednesday's statement and nothing since then has led us to believe that the Government would appeal to the company to reverse its decision. The Government have not even suggested that we should seek to delay the implementation of the decision well beyond June of this year.

Moreover, the Government did not use one of their strong cards. The company still owes them £28 million. The Government could call in that money immediately. Yet Mr. Turnbull, the managing director of Talbot UK, said in his statement last week that the £28 million was not even mentioned during the negotiations with the Government. Indeed, it would cost the company considerably more than £28 million to withdraw from Linwood, because, apart from that amount, a considerable amount of money will be involved in redundancy payments.

Not only was no serious attempt made to save Linwood; no assurance was given in last Wednesday's statement about Coventry. I do not wish to be alarmist, because I very much hope that it will not happen, but there was nothing in last week's statement to prevent the company, a little later, from doing exactly the same at Coventry as it has already done at Linwood. So, apart from asking the Government to take certain steps about Linwood, we are asking them to obtain certain assurances about Coventry, Ryton and Stoke.

Even if the Government accept this decision as final, the Labour Party does not accept it as being the last word and the final chapter in the Linwood story. Nor do the trade unions accept it. The trade unions have been realistic and, in my view, responsible and constructive. I do not intend to mislead the House, or the men whose jobs are at stake, but it will be an extremely difficult job to reverse or even to moderate the decision. However, the effort should be made, and we do not believe that the Government have made that effort.

The trade unions are particularly bitter, because over the past few years they have co-operated with the company in every possible way, whether in matters relating to productivity or to industrial relations. I was glad that in its statement last Wednesday the company acknowledged that none of the blame for the failure could be attributed to a lack of co-operation by the trade unions during those years.

We want the Government to make an effort, even at this late stage, either to have the decision reversed or to have it delayed, not just so that the redundancies can be phased out over a longer time scale—though even that would help the West of Scotland—but so that we can use the time that that will provide to find a solution to the problems of Linwood.

I do not believe that that solution will be found simply by offering additional money to the company. The company has said that in present circumstances money is not the only or the essential issue. The Government are a little hurt by this. They have offered all that money to the company and the company has turned it down. It reminds me of what the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said during his term of office, namely, that he was offering investment incentives and yet no investment was forthcoming.

The offers of assistance are being turned down because the problems at Linwood—here I come to my main criticism of the Government—cannot be isolated from the problems of manufacturing industry as a whole. The climate in which industry is operating is extremely detrimental, and even in the best of circumstances it is extremely difficult to persuade industry to invest and expand at present.

Last Thursday, the day after the disastrous announcement about Linwood, the Department of Industry issued a small press notice about Government selective financial assistance to industry—exquisitely timed, may I say? The notice contained this statement: The Government has made it clear that the main contribution it can make to industrial development is to establish an economic climate in this country in which free enterprise can expand and prosper". That is the Government's pretended policy, but what is really happening? Last week, we were given the figures for manufacturing industry. In 1980 there was a reduction of no less than 13.8 per cent. That takes us back to the 1967 situation. There was the largest decrease in manufacturing output that has ever occurred in a single year, including the disastrous years of the 1930s. That is where the Government's industrial and economic policies have driven manufacturing industry. Until there is a reversal of policy on interest rates and on the high value of sterling, we shall be unable to rescue Linwood, PSA be unable to expand in this country, and manufacturing industry as a whole will not be able to get going again.

Last week's statement by the company said that the value of sterling was a deterrent to maintaining the Linwood manufacturing plant. That significant statement was not sufficiently noted in the press and elsewhere. It is also insufficiently known that, despite the criticisms that have been made of Linwood from time to time, 40 per cent. of the Sunbeams produced at Linwood have gone for export but, because of the high value of the pound, they have been sold at a loss. That story can be told by hundreds or thousands of manufacturing firms in this country. Naturally, in such circumstances Linwood cannot compete in world markets, but it is only experiencing the same kind of difficulty as much of our manufacturing industry.

Mr. Roy Grantham's resignation statement yesterday gave the reasons for his withdrawal as a Governmentappointed director of Talbot UK. He said that there was no way of solving the problems of PSA until there was a change in Government policy, whereby it would be profitable for private enterprise to expand and prosper. That is certainly what we do not have at the present time. Thus, I am asking for a delay in the implementation of the Linwood decision, even if it cannot be reversed. It is not, I repeat, simply to run down the redundancies at Linwood. It is to give us time, not only to produce solutions but to make the other major changes of policy that an increasing body of opinion in the country is now demanding from the Government. Unless we get such a change, nothing that we do for Linwood will save it.

Any delay will cost the Government money. The irony is that their policies are already costing substantial sums of money and adding to the PSBR, when the only raison d'etre of those policies is to reduce the PSBR. The Treasury study last week showed that each additional person unemployed costs £3,400. If Linwood closes, it will therefore cost the Government about £25 million a year. Against that background we ask the Government to make the effort that they should have made before, and in particular to have the decision delayed so that we can see whether a solution can be worked out for Linwood.

The Secretary of State will say that he will involve the Scottish Development Agency. We have heard it all before. He is bringing everyone together for a meeting on Friday. Last week we were told that the Government did not yet know what the meeting hoped to achieve. I am sure that we shall also be told that there will be new factory units, special attention to the area, and so on. I do not disparage such efforts. We need them anyway, with 17½ per cent. male unemployed in Strathclyde, without the special additional tragedy of the Linwood closure. Those efforts are not the whole answer, although they will cost a considerable amount of money.

Neither should we simply abandon Talbot and believe that all will be well if we get the Datsun plant in Scotland. I hope that if Datsun comes to the United Kingdom an effort will be made to have the plant set up in Scotland, but my hon. Friends will also be making efforts to have it set up in other parts of the United Kingdom. We must try hard to maintain our existing manufacturing capacity as well as to establish new capacity.

Everyone wants a change in Government policy towards manufacturing. Last week's announcement came at the time of an unprecedented drop in manufacturing output and coincided with the publication of the Treasury figures on the cost of unemployment. It also coincided with the interesting speech of the Leader of the House. In today's newspaper we can read the statement of the former Leader of the House. The message of those two right hon. Gentlemen, the TUC and the CBI is simple. The Government cannot continue to devastate British industry in the way that they have been doing over the past couple of years. Demoralisation is now so deep-seated that even when the upturn in the economy comes, if it ever does under this Government, very little of British industry will be left to take advantage of the more optimistic circumstances.

Linwood is as good a place as any to start reversing Government policy, so that industry can fight back. The debate is not only about Linwood, keeping Talbot in this country, and asking for reassurances about Coventry; it is about saving British industry. Linwood is not an isolated example; it is symptomatic of the deterioration and demoralisation of British industry. The time to stop the rot is now. The closure of Linwood is the latest manifestation of the Government's ineptitude and failure over the past two years, which has brought British industry to its knees.

5.14 pm
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Younger)

I beg to move, to leave out from 'That' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'this House notes with regret the decision made by PSA within the 1978 agreement to close the Talbot, Linwood factory as a consequence of over capacity despite investment incentives available under the Government's industrial and regional policies; welcomes the company's continuing commitment to manufacturing in Britain; and approves the policies of Her Majesty's Government designed to encourage new employment opportunities in Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom based upon the achievements of competitive industrial costs and practices.' It is always sad when Parliament fails to live up to a great occasion. With respect to the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), I rarely remember an opening speech in this sort of debate that fell as far short of what is expected at such a time. I hope that he will listen to the case that I have to make. Almost all of what he said has been said before and did not mean anything; when it did, he was telling only half the truth. That is no way to treat the House. Anyone from the town of Linwood who reads the debate will be greatly disappointed.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not giving way.

Mr. Younger

The right hon. Gentleman is from the town of Linwood and, I know, will not agree with what I say. However, he has no right to prevent me from saying it.

I start with what we can agree on. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland responsible for industry indicated to the House on 11 February, we are deeply concerned about the loss of jobs in west central Scotland as an inevitable consequence of the Talbot Motor Company's decision to close its Linwood plant this year. Unemployment in Scotland already stands at 12.8 per cent. and in that area it is higher than the Scottish average. That in itself is a cause for concern before we even consider Linwood. The Linwood closure is bound to add substantially to the problem. I agree that it is a very serious event and cannot be understated. It is right that we should debate the matter today, and I am grateful to the Opposition for enabling us to do so.

There is no concealing the fact that the closure is a crushing blow. It results from Talbot's reverses in an increasingly competitive car market. The company has had to regroup to save itself and to remain a significant force in United Kingdom car manufacturing. I am glad that it intends to remain at least a major manufacturing force in the United Kingdom. However, it causes everyone in Scotland great concern that the company is having to close its Scottish plant.

The right hon. Gentleman, rather strangely, mentioned the fact that I was not in the House last Wednesday. He might also have mentioned that I wrote to him personally the previous week to tell him that I might not be here. I have not had a reply to that message. It would be normal courtesy for an hon. Member to reply and say whether he had any objection. I hope that in future the right hon. Gentleman will find the time to do so.

Mr. Millan

I was deeply suspicious about the right hon. Gentleman's excess of courtesy. He made sure that on Wednesday morning I was informed no less than three times that he would not be available for Scottish Question Time. Half an hour later, I discovered that the Linwood announcement was to be made.

Mr. Younger

The right hon. Gentleman should look to his mail arrangements. The letter was written the previous week. If he had any objection, it is reasonable that even he should have replied. I was not here because I was conducting negotiations for the British fishing industry. I am doing the reverse today, if that is any consolation to him. At this moment I should be at an important meeting with leaders of the Scottish fishing industry. If the right hon. Gentleman was upset last week, I hope that he will be particularly grateful today, but I doubt it.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

I have been following the right hon. Gentleman's remarks carefully. Is he telling the House that the week before last he had information that on Wednesday of last week there would be an announcement about Talbot?

Mr. Younger

I was not saying anything of the sort. The hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend does not appear to be in close contact with him. I was telling his right hon. Friend that probably I should not be in the House on Wednesday because the fishing negotiations would still be going on. As it turned out, they were. I mention the matter only as an example of the right hon. Gentleman telling half the truth. It is not good enough to treat either me or the House in that way. I hope that he will try to do better in future.

Our first reaction when the news came through that Talbot might decide to make this closure was to—

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline) rose

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central) rose

Mr. Younger

Perhaps you will consider later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether the hon. Members for Dunfermline (Mr. Douglas) and for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) might be called to speak. They seem to want to make a speech while in their seats.

Our first reaction after that news was to think of whatever the Government could do to prevent the closure, to persuade the company to stay on by any means we could find. As a result, we have had numerous meetings with the company over the last few months. This is the answer to the right hon. Member for Craigton, who made out that we had seen the directors of PSA two days before the announcement, as if it were the first time that I had put those points to them. He was surprised that the announcement came two days later.

We have been in constant touch with the company over many months on this matter. All the things that the right hon. Gentleman called on us to do have been done over and over again with the company. He must come to terms with that. I have had discussions with Mr. Turnbull, the British managing director, and with Mr. Parayre, as has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry. My hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for industry in Scotland has met Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Parayre on several occasions. Our first aim was to try to secure the future of the Talbot operation in Scotland, despite the depressed state of the car industry throughout Europe and, indeed, throughout the world. I had hoped that PSA would develop new production capacity at Linwood, with Industry Act assistance. During our discussion with Mr. Turnbull of Talbot Motors on 15 January, we discussed the type and scale of assistance which would be available for a viable project at Linwood. However, at our most recent discussions on Monday 9 February with Mr. Parayre—chairman of Peugeot Citroen—and his colleagues, which again included Mr. Turnbull, we were given a further full and frank description of PSA's and Talbot's problems.

At all those meetings we made it clear that the Government were prepared to make available for a viable investment project at Linwood the substantial scale of assistance which is available in special development areas, through regional development grants and selective financial assistance. It became clear, however, that there was no possibility of any project which showed signs of viability from the whole range of those which were examined—from manufacture of a new model through to manufacture and supply of motor components for the whole group. Indeed, the managing director of Talbot Motors has said publicly that Linwood would have continued to lose money even if the Government had funded 100 per cent. of the tooling and production of new models. The right hon. Gentleman slightly bowed to that view when he said that he thought that money was not the problem, so perhaps in that we are also at one.

In the company's view, there was no prospect of profitability. Government assistance of any scale cannot conceal the fact that Talbot has too much productive capacity for its current and prospective markets.

Mr. Allen Adams (Paisley)

The Minister has given the House considerable details about discussions with the company. Obviously, that sort of discussion did not take place the night before the Minister met hon. Members. However, Ministers told us the night before the announcement was made that they had no idea of the company's intention. The Minister used the words "No idea". Will the Minister now tell the House that he had some idea of that intention, because clearly he had?

Mr. Younger

The hon. Member is referring to a different point, which I am happy to deal with. He is referring to whether it was on the night before the announcement that we already knew about the decision. I assure the hon. Member that we were assured at every one of the meetings with the company, at whatever level, including the last meeting, to which the hon. Member referred, that no final decision had been made. We repeatedly asked that question and we were repeatedly given that assurance. I can only take assurances that are given to me on these matters. Therefore, we did not know about the decision at that stage. We understood that the decision was being taken at a board meeting on the day after our meeting. I have no reason to doubt that that was so. We did not know about it at the time referred to by the hon. Member.

Mr. Millan

Will the Minister tell the House when the Government were informed and when he first knew about the company's decision?

Mr. Younger

That has already been said. The Government were informed on Wednesday morning, shortly before the press statement was made. On inquiring from the company why that was, we were told that it was anxious to see that its employees and local Members of Parliament were told before they heard it from any other source. That was understandable, and hon. Members might take that view if it suited them.

I can imagine what Opposition Members would have said if just one of them had heard the news from someone else before the company had made its announcement. There would have been points of order, applications under Standing Order No. 9 and every sort of nonsense. That sort of humbug is not conducive to a sensible debate. I hope that we can get on to the sensible side of the debate.

Mr. Buchan

The right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in making the situation worse. If he is saying that the morning after the decision on the Monday night, the company treated its employees with such contempt as to send out dismissal notices and then the Minister—not the organ grinder, but the monkey—came to the House on the Wednesday, not only to announce the decision but to defend it, that means that the employees did not react to the contempt with which they were treated by the company.

Mr. Younger

I appreciate that the hon. Member feels strongly about this matter, but it does not add to the debate to speak in such terms.

The hon. Member must bear in mind that three days are involved—Monday, Tuedsay and Wednesday. I have been trying to tell the House the truth to the best of my ability. The truth is sometimes rather lacking. I could say plenty of things that were not quite the truth. But I intend to tell the whole truth to the House. I believe that that is the way in which the people of Linwood would wish it to be done. I hope I shall be allowed to get through my speech and tell the truth. I do not intend to varnish over any of the difficulties.

Mr. Millan

I do not want to return to the question of the Secretary of State's absence last Wednesday, but what he said earlier about writing to me was true. He did not add that on Wednesday morning, at about 10 o'clock, I received a telephone call from Brussels on behalf of the Secretary of State apologising for his absence that afternoon. I accepted that apology gratefully. However, during that telephone conversation there was mention only of the Secretary of State missing parliamentary questions, and no mention of Linwood.

Mr. Younger

The right hon. Gentleman is unwise to keep up this peripheral issue in which no one is interested. I assure him that I asked one of my staff to ring him to tell him that. Neither I nor my staff knew that Peugeot-Citroen—

Mr. Buchan

I knew at 9 o'clock.

Mr. Younger

I have covered that point. I did not know at that time. If the hon. Gentleman opened his mail at 9 o'clock, he knew before I did. As I have explained, that is because the company took the view—one can agree or disagree with it—that its top priority was to see that its employees and the Members of Parliament representing them knew first. Hon. Members may disagree with that, but that is what the company did. As I have no power or control over it—nor has the hon. Gentleman—that is what we must accept was its judgment on how to deal with the matter. I hope that I shall be acquitted of any discourtesy. I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman meant to apologise for complaining about something about which he was properly informed but omitted to do so.

In its press statement last Wednesday, the company outlined the reasoning which led it to table its decision. It acknowledged—as we must all acknowledge—the considerable achievement of PSA and its work force at Linwood, and the marked improvement in labour relations and productivity since PSA took over in 1978.

Days lost through disputes dropped dramatically. As the company has attempted to slim down its operations and increase production standards, productivity has improved by no less than 20 per cent. in the last year. However, the company has had to reckon with particularly severe competition in the market place which increased as the total market for new cars shrunk. It sustained very serious financial losses in both 1979 and 1980, a large proportion of which were ascribed to Linwood.

To go on as it was would not have saved Linwood but merely have put at risk the whole of the company's manufacturing activity throughout the United Kingdom. We should, therefore, be under no illusions about the reasons for the decision that the company has taken to close Linwood. It has nothing to do with the branch plant of a multinational acting capriciously or selfishly. It is for the company to represent its own case, but it is a firmly commercial case.

The facts are, first, that the Talbot operation at Linwood has become increasingly unprofitable. Secondly, it has models which are becoming rapidly outdated. Thirdly, it can no longer be sustained by the group because of trading losses and the high cost of new investment which everyone knows is essential to keep the factory going. Fourthly, there is no prospect of a return on investment in a new model in current market conditions.

Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell and Wishaw)

In the discussions that the Secretary of State and his colleagues had with Peugeot-Citroen did they ask at what exchange rate Linwood would become profitable? If the right hon. Gentleman did ask, what answer did he receive? If he did not ask, why did he not ask?

Mr. Younger

The subject of exchange rates came up in various conversations, but it was clear that the size of the gap was so great that no one factor alone could make a major difference to the figures.

I turn to the timing of the closure.

Dr. Bray

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Younger

I must not delay the House too long.

Dr. Bray

It is all very well for the Secretary of State to say that the gap was too large, but the Government have said that the deterioration in competitiveness was 50 per cent. in the last two years. Was the margin larger or smaller than that, and by how much?

Mr. Younger

I am not clear what the hon. Gentleman means by "larger or smaller than". We can pursue that later. With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I think that the gap is so large that no exchange rate figure could bridge it. He can go into the matter, but that is my view and I am certain that it is correct. I am trying to be as open with the House as I can.

The timing of the closure was discussed thoroughly with representatives of Peugeot-Citroen and Talbot. Delay would certainly provide a measure of interim relief for the area, but as it is the plant has been working at only about 30 per cent. of its capacity. Since the autumn it has been supported by the temporary short-time working compensation scheme.

Further delay could be justified only if there was a real prospect of ultimate viability. The company does not see such a prospect, so it could be achieved only at the cost of continuing losses on producing cars which are now suffering a sharp drop in market demand. It could not be financed by the company itself. There seems little point in continuing to produce cars at the taxpayer's expense with declining sales unless there is a prospect of a viable long-term operation.

What about the right hon. Gentleman's argument about the declaration of intent about which he made much in his speech? He was not wholly open with the House about it. At the time of the PSA takeover the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends were heavily involved in negotiations with PSA. They agreed the declaration of intent which, however one reads it, contains no cast-iron guarantee of the continuation of manufacturing operations in the United Kingdom, as the right hon. Gentleman claimed.

In arguing that we should have made PSA live by the declaration, the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends make out the document to be something that it never was. For it to be the kind of binding watertight agreement that they would like now, one would have to overlook the wording in the agreement which they agreed and signed. I shall quote from two short passages. They sound good until one sees the small print. Paragraph 4 reads: To continue and strengthen [Talbot's] programme of modernisation of facilities and investment in order to ensure that [Talbot] grows and prospers as part of the PSA Group and thus specifically to provide to the extent consistent with prevailing economic conditions, continued employment at all [Talbot's] facilities". That contains a perfect let-out. Most of the wording is good, but there is a let-out.

The right hon. Gentleman must have read the agreement before he signed it. Did he think that it would get through if it were subject to the strong light of scrutiny? Of course he must have done. But he was wrong.

Paragraph 5 of the agreement reads: PSA will also ensure that … future model programmes take particular account of the need to replace, as soon as PSA and [Talbot] consider feasible, the Avenger and Sunbeam cars at Linwood with models which offer the clear prospect of using the capacity of this facility to the fullest possible extent. Again, that sounds marvellous, but the qualifying words in the middle enable a company which finds it impossibly expensive or difficult, or if there is no market for the product, to say that the agreement does not constitute the cast-iron guarantee that the right hon. Gentleman would like.

I do not criticise the efforts that right hon. Gentlemen made to tie the matter up. However, to come back now, having signed that document, and make out that it is castiron and copper-bottomed is not being straight with the House. It is also sheer cruelty to make those affected feel that something could be done when it never could.

Mr. Buchan

The Secretary of State has made great play of the loopholes in the declaration of intent. He said that paragraph 4 was qualified by the phrase to the extent consistent with prevailing economic conditions. Who is creating those prevailing economic conditions?

Mr. Younger

The hon. Gentleman knows that the right hon. Member for Craigton claimed that guarantees were cast-iron.

Mr. Buchan

Answer the question.

Mr. Younger

My answer is simple. Prevailing economic conditions at all times affect everything.

The right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley), as Secretary of State for Industry, tried to defend the fact that Chrysler would not introduce a small light car that it had undertaken to introduce. At that time the right hon. Gentleman said: For sound commercial reasons Chrysler will not introduce a new small light car next year at the company's Linwood plant as originally envisaged".—[Official Report, 13 June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 391.] That is exactly the same situation. The company had undertaken a project that could not proceed because of commercial considerations. The right hon. Members for Chesterfield and for Craigton meekly bowed to that; and they were right to do so. However, when such overwhelming commercial considerations have been presented, for the right hon. Gentleman to give the impression that he would have done otherwise is nothing but sheer humbug. He should be ashamed of the fact that he expects us to swallow such rubbish.

We are under no illusions about the impact on the immediate area of Linwood. The loss of 4,800 jobs cannot occur without creating major economic and social problems. I am now considering urgently in advance of the shutdown of Linwood what measures we can realistically take to generate new employment. I have called urgent discussions with the local authorities, the STUC, the CBI and others concerned, for Friday 20 February in Glasgow.

I would here refer to the ad hoc committee, organised at the initiative of convenor Charles O'Halloran, of Strathclyde regional council, which has been pressing for a meeting with the PSA management so that it can argue for a reversal of the decision to close Linwood or at least postponement of the closure. I warmly welcome convenor O'Halloran's initiative. What he did was extremely helpful and sensible. He also began the meeting by making clear that the objective of the ad hoc committee was entirely constructive, to see what can be done in the future. It was not concerned with the sterile and useless business of trying to apportion blame. That is the right approach, as most people in the West of Scotland would agree.

I have been watching the efforts of Mr. O'Halloran and his committee to try to get a meeting with PSA. I have today used my good offices with Mr. George Turnbull, chairman of Talbot Motors. He has drawn attention to the telex that Mr. Parayre sent yesterday to Strathclyde regional council indicating that he thought that such a meeting would serve only to raise false hopes that would later be let down. Mr. Turnbull is, however, I am glad to say, ready to meet representatives of the ad hoc committee to enlarge upon the reasons for the company's decision and to give details of the company's closure plans. He has emphasised that in his view there is no question of reversing or delaying the decision to close the plant. I think, however, that this is a useful and constructive offer. I hope that it will be taken up by the ad hoc committee and that a useful exchange of views will take place with Mr. Turnbull.

We cannot expect to get simple, straightforward, off-the-cuff, solutions. It would do no one a service to try to pretend otherwise. We have to mobilise every resource possible to generate more jobs in the area to replace those that have been lost. This is bound to be a difficult task.

Mr. William McKelvey (Kilmarnock) rose

Mr. Younger

I think that I should press on with my speech. This is a short debate and other hon. Members wish to speak. I have given way too often already. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that simply to pour in public money is not the answer. We shall take every opportunity to attract inward investment to the area and at the same time encourage the establishment and growth of indigenous companies. No doubt, that will be difficult, but it is not a task that we can shirk. Our aim must be to secure real, long-term industrial growth for the area. We shall call upon all resources from the public and private sectors to do this.

The last thing that should be thought is that the attraction of new jobs, even at this time, is so hopeless that it will not work and can never produce results. Even at this time of fairly widespread redundancies and closures, caused by the current recession, it is only too easy to overlook the achievements being made in securing new jobs and employment. [HON. MEMBERS: Where?"]

We have had a number of successes in new enterprises coming to Scotland. Nippon Electric is perhaps the most significant. There are also important expansions, including Sunbeam Electric at East Kilbride, resulting in East Kilbride being the sole manufacturing base for Sunbeam products in Europe. This means 300 new jobs within the next year. Dawson International Limited has recently created 200 new jobs at Ballantyne Sportswear, at Bonnyrigg. Additional jobs are expected in the near future both at that plant and at McKinnon of Scotland at Coatbridge, as the group continues to be one of the United Kingdom's most successful exporters.

We also have some other major orders coming to Scotland. British Aerospace at Prestwick has an order for 14 aircraft; Kestrel Marine of Dundee, an order for £8 million contract work in the North Sea; and John Brown Engineering, orders for more than £55 million worth of gas turbines in various parts of the Middle and Far East. No less significant is the recent decision of Digital Limited to buy its new factory in Ayr and to establish itself firmly as part of Scotland's growing electronics industry. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who was instrumental in bringing about that new factory, is present to hear that announcement.

In case Opposition Members think that this is all stuff that they have already heard, I assure them that this is not by any means the end of the story. There will be an announcement tomorrow by a successful United Kingdom company of the immediate implementation of a multimillion pound manfacturing project for East Scotland to produce a unique high technology consumer electronic product. This project is expected to create about 1,000 new jobs over the next few years. I list these in order to say to those who may be affected by this truly difficult situation in the West of Scotland that the alternative of looking for effective, high technology new jobs is not simply one on paper or in the minds of people who think up these schemes. It is working; it is happening. There are physical, real jobs being provided even at this time to prove it.

I have taken longer than I wished, due to the many interruptions. I finish by saying that I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is a grim situation. The substance of the argument that he has put which is in tune with the motion that he and his right hon and hon. Friends have tabled, does not begin to stand up to scrutiny. The right hon. Gentleman made out that the undertakings given by PSA originally had not been kept. He stated that two or three times. The right hon. Gentleman failed to point out that the undertakings were couched in such vague terms as to be undertakings not to be kept in any case.

Secondly, he made out that a decision had in some way been reached without any Government efforts to halt it or alter it or to persuade the company to stay. I think that I have destroyed that argument totally. Lastly, the right hon. Gentleman admitted that additional money was not the answer. At no point in his remarks did he give any indication of what he would have been able to do to change anything, to reverse anything, or to persuade the company to act otherwise.

The right hon. Gentleman's effort this afternoon to extract political capital out of a disastrous situation in the West of Scotland has fallen flat on its face. I hope that the House will reject the motion and accept the amendment.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Before calling the nexat speaker, I remind the House that a large number of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen wish to speak in the debate, so brief contributions would be in order. May I also say that interjections and interruptions tend to prolong speeches?

5.47 pm
Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

We have had a long and sustained exercise in political hypocrisy this afternoon. The speech of the Secretary of State was one without shame, without remorse and without solutions. I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman has either begun to understand the enormity of his shameful capitulation last week or to understand the deep sense of anger and bitterness that exists in the West of Scotland today. He does not understand that this matter is not seen in the West of Scotland only as a single factory closure. It is seen as a denial of the regional policies operated by Governments of both parties over the past two decades. The factory itself first came to Scotland as a result of the efforts of the Harold Macmillan Conservative Government—a more humane and compassionate group of Tories then, compared with the new brutalism seen from the present Tory Party.

The anger and the alarm expressed in the West of Scotland can only be reinforced by the kind of speech that the right hon. Gentleman made. The right hon. Gentleman says that we should not apportion blame. The point of apportioning blame is to find some solutions for the future. What happened last week was that on Monday— the right hon. Gentleman claims—the Government put the full argument to the company. He said that they argued the case and offered inducements. We were told that the company's representatives were going to consult the board. Either the company was lying to the Government or the Government are lying to us. On Tuesday morning letters were posted from Coventry. Either the company listened to the arguments and treated them with complete contempt or the Government are taking part in the lying. There is no other option. Until I encountered this Tory Government I had thought it inconceivable that a British Government should be treated with such contempt. The Government let the company go, but the next morning—before the wheels had stopped turning—letters were sent without demur or remorse.

Events the following day were even more serious. No resistance had been offered. Last Wednesday, the UnderSecretary's statement did not say that the company had conned us, and had lied to us and that we would fight them. It said that the Government endorsed, supported and justified the company's action. The Government were given the Anglo Saxon symbol of a two-fingered salute with a French accent and they accepted it. That is where the blame lies.

We have been told that it is too bad that the factory is to close. We have been told that urgent investigations will take place, that a working party is to be set up and that people will be called together to deal with the problem. Since the Conservative Party came into office we have heard that almost every week. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. McKelvey) attempted to intervene because he wanted to tell the House that the same words and phrases, in the same order, had been uttered about Massey Ferguson. Nothing happened. We hear—as Hamlet said—"Words, words, words" but see no action. That is why there is alarm in the West of Scotland.

I have never seen a Government so happy about scoring debating points on an issue that involves 5,000 people. They said that the declaration of intent could not be used because qualifying phrases were involved such as to the extent consistent with prevailing economic conditions. I asked the Secretary of State who was responsible for the prevailing economic conditions. I received no answer. The right hon. Gentleman may be right when he says that it is only the qualifying phrase that prevents the declaration of intent from being implemented. If so, it is the Government's economic policies that are to blame.

Mr. Younger


Mr. Buchan

The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If he wishes to argue that the qualifying phrase was the only reason why the declaration of intent was not implemented, he should recognise that that phrase means it was dependent on the success of the Government's economic policies. On his own admission, the only conclusion is that the Government's economic policies have failed.

Interventions have been made by some of my hon. Friends who have sought only to hear the facts. As time is short, I shall turn briefly to the figures. At the end of his speech the right hon. Gentleman triumphantly told us that, after a time, a firm would provide 1,000 jobs. He said that on the very day that he has endorsed the sacking of 4,800 employees. Each time a factory closes— [Interruption.] I wish that those on the Government Front Bench would face their responsibilities. Right hon. and hon. Members are behaving like sixth formers who argue with their teachers. We hear hyprocrisy, but we do not get any action. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I ask the House to give the hon. Gentleman a hearing.

Mr. Buchan

Every week we hear that thousands of jobs have been lost. We are told that a group of 10 or 20 people will have jobs here and there. But there are more than 250,000 unemployed people in Scotland. As a result of this closure. 40 per cent. of males in Linwood will be unemployed. That is a higher percentage than for any other town in the United Kingdom, with the possible exception of Strabane, in Northern Ireland. Indeed, the figures are worse than those for general unemployment in 1931–32. Of insured workers—those liable for unemployment benefit—in Johnstone, 30 per cent. were unemployed in November 1931. That figure does not include the non-insured workers. Therefore, the real figure was slightly below 20 per cent. That occurred at the height of the devastation that took place in the 1930s. By June, that figure will be doubled in Linwood. That is the size of the enormity, yet Conservative Members wish to score debating points.

We are sick and tired of the Government's remarks. We are told that there is no alternative. Week after week the Prime Minister tells us that there is no alternative. It is nonsense to argue that human beings who can work have no alternative despite the fact that capital and machinery are available. There is an alternative—namely, to let the people produce. The Government's figure of 4,800 will be doubled directly and trebled indirectly. The closure will mean that 10,000 more people will become unemployed in Scotland. Indeed, in the next two years 30,000 or more will become unemployed in the United Kingdom as a result of the closure. It will mean a £0.25 billion increase in the public sector borrowing requirement.

If the Government fall back on deflation in order to solve the crisis, the position will worsen. That is the size of the problem, yet the Government say there is no option. However, there is a track that can produce three different models. The under-developed countries have urgent requirements. Incidentally, my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) asked me to apologise on his behalf as he has had to leave the Chamber, but he will return later.

One option would have been to tell the company that the Government were willing to set up a holding company. The Government have said that they offered finance. However, the amount offered was the same as that offered to any company in the same situation. It was composed of the normal regional grants. An exceptional offer has not been made. For example, the Government have not offered to take over the factory or to run it in co-operation with Peugeot.

Is there any reason why a light pick-up truck could not be developed at Linwood? It has the skills, the research and the ability to produce such a vehicle. Is there any reason why we could not have picked up the problem left by the loss of the MG? Is there any reason why Linwood could not have been the site for the production of cars for the thousands of disabled people? There is an urgent need for such cars. To say that there are no options is to say that human progress has come to an end and that regional policy has no meaning. If it is argued that regional policy can be allowed to go, whole tracts of the British Isles will be condemned and will become permanent industrial wastelands.

If the Government show no sign of shame or remorse, they at least show signs of fear. The Leader of the House has called for a U-turn. The former Leader of the House, who was the only humane Tory in the Cabinet, was sacked for his humanity. This morning, that right hon. Gentleman called for a U-turn. In addition, the people of Scotland are crying out loudly for a U-turn.

The Government will have a major fight on their hands. There is a conparison here with Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, and we shall fight the same sort of battle. The lads in the factory have pledged themselves to that fight and we also pledge ourselves to that fight. The first answer to this shameful Government will be given on Saturday at the unemployment demonstration, when the Talbot workers will take a proud and honoured place in the march, as we marched before, over Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. In case the Government have short memories, that was the watershed, the catalyst, that led to the destruction of the Government of the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). This, too, will be the sort of watershed that will send this most shameful of all Governments into oblivion.

6 pm

Mr. Allan Stewart (Renfrewshire, East)

The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) has spoken with passion and conviction and the whole House will pay tribute to the efforts that he has made in relation to Linwood over a long period. There have been thousands of words written about Linwood, but the hon. Gentleman put the matter in a nutshell last Wednesday when he said: Is the Minister aware that for 16 years I have fought to preserve that factory".—[Official Report, 1 February 1981; Vol. 998, c. 867]

Mr. Buchan

I shall not stop fighting.

Mr. Stewart

That summarises the whole problem. From the start, Linwood has faced a battle for survival. Before I develop that theme I should like to say a brief word about the demeaning exhibition earlier concerning the Secretary of State's not being present in the House last Wednesday.

The private notice question was accepted in my name and it seemed right to put the question to the Secretary of State for Scotland, given that responsibility for dealing with the situation at Linwood is primarily a Scottish Office function. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland answered the question fully and clearly. I have no fishing interests in my constituency, but I believe that it would have been completely wrong for the Secretary of State for Scotland to have left the negotiations at such a critical time.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it should be placed on record that present at those fisheries negotiations were the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food—a more senior Minister than the Secretary of State for Scotland—and the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who is also a Scottish Member of Parliament and knows more about the Scottish fishing industry than the Secretary of State for Scotland is ever likely to know? In those circumstances, would it not have been possible for the Secretary of State to come back?

Mr. Stewart

I clearly made a grave error of judgment in giving way to the hon. Gentleman, who is continuing to nitpick on an issue that is not central to this debate. He is wasting the time of the House. We should be discussing the real issues about Linwood, which is what I now propose to do. I want to be positive. Of course, it is easy to be wise after the event.

When we look back at Linwood we shall not talk about what management did or did not do, or what the work force did or did not do. We shall concentrate on the role of politicians—not evil politicians, not stupid politicians— [Interruption.] We shall concentrate on the role of intelligent, well-intentioned politicians—Tory and Labour. It will be said that the tragedy of Linwood is a cautionary tale for politicians. There is no doubt that Rootes was pushed into Linwood against the company's better judgment. The Scotsman summarised the position last week. It said: The closure decision is no less awful because it has been so clearly signalled for such a long time. It was the plant which bankrupted Rootes and forced them to sell out to Chrysler only four years after the Scottish operation was launched…. The plant finished Chrysler in the United Kingdom too. We have to look back and ask why Linwood has never been profitable. Labour Members blame current Government policies, but that plant has never been profitable under three owners and six Prime Ministers. The problems are more fundamental and complex. It is too easy to say that the problem of Linwood is that it is far away from the West Midlands. We know that car plants prosper in the South of America as well as in Detroit. The theory of Linwood never worked. It was thought that it would act as a catalyst and generate component manufacture in the area, but at present Linwood obtains only 3 per cent. of its components from local suppliers.

Dr. Bray rose

Mr. Stewart

No, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have already given way once.

Secondly, what about industrial relations? In the early years, Linwood was a byword for bad industrial relations. It has a strike record that has bedevilled the factory, its products and Scotland. Perhaps bad industrial relations were not so much a cause as a symptom of the underlying problem. The people felt insecure because there was continuing a question-mark over their jobs. I should like to pay tribute to the industrial relations and to the work force. The company statement said that the work force at Linwood had responded very well to the need to improve productivity and that the company in no way blamed it or the trade unions for the decision to close the plant.

The Transport and General Workers Union convenor, Jimmy Livingstone, responded to this tragic news by saying: We intend working normally and will show them what throughput is. No one is going to point a finger at us. No one is going to say we are the wreckers. The problem with Linwood was that it was never really one thing or the other. In the car manufacturing industry a company either has to be in the volume business or it has to be a small specialist manufacturer. Linwood was never successfully either. What can now be done positively and realistically? Much has been said in this debate and outside the House. The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) is not with us this afternoon, but he has talked to the press. He finds the decision unacceptable, and he said that if he had been the boss he would have called a conference of all interested parties. So much for the Socialist millenium. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton), who is not present either, has said that the Labour Party should commit itself to fining the company. I hope that will be denied by the Opposition Front Bench because nothing could be worse than that for the future of the company and its workers.

The solution of the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Adams) is that imports should be stopped at the docks. I wish him well at Southampton docks. I suspect that the only people there would be the hon. Gentleman, the television cameras and the pressmen. I do not believe that the workers are so silly as to think that such solutions solve anything.

Mr. Buchan

Will the hon. Member give way?

Mr. Stewart

I have already given way, and there are many hon. Members who want to speak in the debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I said a few minutes ago that interruptions prolong speeches.

Mr. Stewart

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have a great respect for the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West but he has already had the opportunity to speak in the debate.

What can we do constructively? The unions are looking at the costings and the economics of the plant. The Government should take those costings very seriously, not because they will lead to the decision being reversed but because we need to know all we can about the costings of the plant when we look to its use in the future.

There has been some mention of Nissan-Datsun. I accept that it is almost certainly not a starter for the Linwood site. The last thing we want in the West of Scotland is for another factory to be pushed into a location that is not satisfactory for it. We do not want a repeat performance of that kind of thing. We want companies to come to the West of Scotland because they honestly believe that that is the best place for them, and because they honestly believe that they can stay there on a commercial basis and make profits.

There are suitable sites in the West of Scotland. I draw the attention of the Front Bench in particular to Hunterston, which seems on the face of it to be a site of sufficient size, at the oil terminal, with its connections to the steel industry.

I welcome my right hon. Friend's initiative in having a meeting on Friday of all interested parties. He will get a constructive response from bodies such as Strathclyde region and Renfrew district. We have had successes and are having successes in the West of Scotland, as elsewhere.

It has been suggested that we need some kind of new task force to deal with the problem at Linwood. I am a little hesitant about creating new structures. Perhaps the best thing would be to say to the Scottish Development Agency "You buy the factory and see what you can do to turn it into a set of productive units".

There has also been mention of an enterprise zone for the area. I do not know where that is necessarily appropriate for Linwood. I am not in a position to make that judgment. But I hope that my hon. Friends in the Scottish Office will explore that suggestion.

We need to get the message across to incoming industrialists, whether they be from south of the border or abroad, about the positive attitude of the work force at Linwood, and the key fact that there is a skilled and responsible work force there.

Having said that, I do not believe—

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)rose

Mr. Stewart

—that the House for one moment should accept the Opposition motion. All the talk by Labour Members about the agreement is, frankly, a con. I was telling people privately months ago that that agreement was full of loopholes and almost certainly meant nothing. My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson), with whom I share an office, will confirm that.

I reject the motion also because I know something of the efforts that Ministers have made in regard to Linwood. There have been formal and informal meetings weekly—almost daily at times—with Ministers, and I know that they have done everything possible. The motion is totally inaccurate and is a distortion of the truth. Even though Labour Members will vote for it tonight, in their heart of hearts they know that they will be voting for a motion that contains a travesty of the facts.

6.14 pm
Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

It is, indeed, a very sad day. The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), who made an extremely passionate and coherent speech, was absolutely right to emphasise the shock, the horror and the bitterness felt in the West of Scotland when the closure was announced. It has emerged from what several hon. Members have said that this bitterness is made worse by a feeing of helplessness and impotence and a complete inability to know what on earth we can do about the position.

I shall be brief, because I know that especially those hon. Members who represent constituencies which are directly affected will wish to contribute to the debate, but I want to pose several questions to the Secretary of State. I do not argue with him that this is other than a complex matter, and I do not think that it is possible to have simple solutions, but there are certain questions which it is reasonable and fair to put.

Much reference has been made to the statement of intent, and we had the exchange between the Secretary of State and the right hon. Member for Craigton, the latter stressing the statement and the Secretary of State stressing the loopholes. Are guarantees of this sort worth the paper that they are written on? When the Government, with the best of intentions, are dealing with a multinational company, is there any point in having statements of intent, financial or otherwise?

In this connection, one or two hon. Members asked what was to happen to the loan of £25 million. Somehow or other, it seems to have got lost, and we do not yet know whether it is coming back.

What is the Government's attitude generally to intervention? It is becoming less and less clear. As the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) said when he made his statement on Wednesday, it is not good enough that this should be a commercial decision. The Secretary of State repeated that today. But whenever the Government intervene in any way with what a company is doing, the decision that the company makes becomes less than commercial.

The whole of regional policy is based on interfering with pure commerce. That is basically what the mixed economy is supposed to be about. It means that Governments take social responsibility. Regional policy is about social responsibility. The creation of unemployment figures on the scale that will prevail at Linwood demands definite intervention of some kind.

The Secretary of State said, in an intervention, that during his series of meetings, together with his hon. Friend, with representatives of PSA, interest rates and the strength of the pound were mentioned. There was also reference to worker directors, and this was referred to by the right hon. Member for Craigton in his speech as a significant factor. What weight would the Minister give to the effect of interest rates and the strength of the pound in leading us to the present position? This is, after all, a central part of Government policy. The Government are responsible for the strength of the pound and for the level of interest rates.

What is the future of motor car manufacturing in Scotland? Is there any future for it? The Secretary of State at one point during his speech said that he would be trying for Datsun in competition with others concerned with other areas of the United Kingdom. This may be, in a sense, a naive question, but why is Datsun a runner? It starts with a green field site, whereas an established plant, purchased only two years ago, and which has demonstrated a considerable capacity to improve productivity and to have good industrial relations, is not in the some position. Why is Datsun a runner, and why is PSA, in the Government's judgment and in that of everybody else, not a runner?

We know that British manufactured cars have been steadily losing their share of the market. The market itself has been shrinking and there were 200,000 fewer registrations last year. That is related to a degree to productivity levels. There are 30 cars produced per man in Japan, 15 in Germany and about seven in the United Kingdom? Is there nothing that can be done about that? Are the Government saying that a plant in which PSA had the confidence to invest only two years ago is to be tossed onto the scrap heap? I find that extremely difficult to accept. What does the Secretary of State think is the future? Is there any future for the motor car industry in Scotland?

What is the future of regional policy in Scotland? This has, as the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) said, a profound effect on regional policy. The number of jobs affected is huge. It is an area that is already suffering gravely from unemployment. The right hon. Member for Craigton said that we want a delay in implementation at the very least. Why not?

I turn to what I consider to be the most grave and serious item. The Secretary of State indicated during the long series of interchanges, when he was asked when he found out, when he knew and when he was told, that he had been in discussion for a long time and that the writing was on the wall for a long time. If that was the position, what was done to prepare for it? If the event was unstoppable, there should have been some orderly transition to prevent the flooding on to the streets of thousands of men with nothing to do. This is an enormous waste of resources. I beg the Government to think more about what they are doing.

6.22 pm
Mr. Michael Ancram (Edinburgh, South)

I hope that the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnson) will forgive me if I do not take up his remarks. I shall follow your advice on brevity, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and make only a few comments, I hope that it has become evident during the debate that there is not a monopoly of dismay in any one part of the House. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr,. Buchan) and my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, East (Mr. Stewart) have expressed the deep anxiety that is felt by those most closely involved in the closure, but there are implications for the whole of Scotland that the Government should consider seriously.

Linwood was car manufacturing in Scotland. Its closure removes Scotland from the league of car manufacturers. The implications that flow from that are worthy of consideration. First, the closure highlights the even greater importance of seeking to retain the British Leyland truck and tractor manufacturing capacity at Bathgate.

Secondly, the closure must give a greater incentive to the Government as a whole—by that I do not mean the Scottish Office in competition against the Welsh Office and other Departments—in seeking to persuade NissanDatsun of the advantages of setting up in Scotland. I accept, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, East, that is looking for a green field site and that its interest in Linwood is at best remote. However, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will agree that there are many such sites in Scotland. Even if Linwood closes, a pool of experienced and skilled labour will be available that would be able to retain a viable Scottish contribution to car manufacturing. I hope that the Government will respond to that challenge.

Thirdly, there is the lesson of Linwood, which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, East. It is a lesson that should not be lost. The mistakes of the past should not be repeated. There is a great distinction—it is one that the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) seemed unable to grasp—between directing industry to a site and attracting it to a site. Directing, whether by Government edict or by financial inducement, often means building a house on sand. As we know, if a house is built on sand and the sand starts to shift, the house will collapse however often it is propped up. That, in a tragic way, has been the lesson of Linwood.

Attraction depends on a suitable environment, adequate facilies, communications, and available skilled labour of which industry itself will want to take advantage voluntarily. The Government will be able to show NissanDatsun the sites in Scotland that fulfil those criteria.

More importantly, the Government have a role to play at Linwood. It is a ready-made industrial site, with reasonable communications. Over the past few years it has had a provenly reliable pool of skilled labour. It is an ideal site for firms wishing to set up a European base. If some changes or some redevelopment is needed, that is precisely the type of function that the Scottish Development Association can and should carry out, even if a little public money is involved in so doing. In many ways that would be more effective than some of the gardening operations that it seems to be carrying out in Scotland.

Sadly, but I think realistically, I cannot see that Linwood in its present form can be retained. To try to do so will in many ways merely prolong the agony for those who work there. Political parties, finance, local government, management and unions in Scotland are faced with the urgent need to find new and viable jobs by persuading industry to come to the area. It is for that reason that I find the motion and the attitude of Labour Members depressing.

We Scots are too often known for our ability to beat our breasts and for the way in which we like to indulge in recriminations. I hope that Labour Members will agree that in the face of what is happening at Linwood there is no place for that type of behaviour.

Especially at the meeting on Friday, which I welcome, we must together put forward the brightest and most attractive face possible to those whom we seek to attract to the area. I believe that the attractions are there. We need the mutual will. If ever there was a time to forget the past and to think of the future, surely that time is now. If ever there was a time to avoid industrial disruption and action and to show the potential stability of the work force in Scotland, I believe that that time is now. I say that with a good deal of seriousness, in view of some of the actions that have been predicted as a result of the closure. If ever there has been a time to work together in co-operation towards a mutually desired end, rather than in opposition, I believe that that time is now.

Talbot, Linwood is, sadly, dead and gone. I believe that from the ashes a phoenix can arise to take its place. It is better to look for new viable jobs than continue with the lame duck that has hirpled so tragically for so many years in the past. The goal of all hon. Members should be to show for once, as Scots politicians, that we can work together for the mutual benefit of Scotland.

6.28 pm
Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to participate in the debate. My constituency is part of the district of Cunninghame, which adjoins the area of the Renfrew district council and extends nearly to the boundaries of Linwood. Many of those who work at Linwood come from my constituency, from the towns of Dairy, Kilbirnie and Beith, from as far west as Ardrossan, Saltcoats and the Slevenston area in the northern part of Ayr and from Irvine in my constituency.

One of the ironies of the decision to close Linwood is that those of my constituents who were declared redundant when the Glengamock steelworks open hearth furnaces closed down, who were grateful to have the opportunity of employment at Linwood, are to be declared redundant for the second time.

I am making a point that has often been made during the debate. We are dealing not with the death of Linwood but with the death of the surrounding area, the industrial death of the West of Scotland and Strathclyde in particular. It is not only the death of the town of Linwood, but the final nail in the coffin of my area of the Garnock Valley. Many of our hopes lay in maintaining the work force at Linwood until the other initiatives operating in the Garnock Valley came to fruition and increased employment.

When one talks about unemployment and losing 4,800 jobs, and with the percentages in millions, one sometimes forgets that the man who is unemployed is 100 per cent. unemployed. He is not just a statistic. We have about 2½ million unemployed in the United Kingdom. We have 282,000 unemployed in Scotland. Those figures mean very little to hon. Members who come from the prosperous South and south-eastern parts of England. They talk about percentages. The percentage unemployment rate in Scotland is 12.8 percent. In Strathclyde it is 17. percent. In my constituency in Central Ayrshire and in the district of Cunninghame the unemployment rate is 20.6 per cent., and that is before the effects of Linwood.

Looking at that another way, what do these figures mean to individuals? I put that point especially to hon. Members who represent constituencies not yet affected by unemployment on the same scale as we are affected in west central Scotland. In the United Kingdom one person in every 10 is unemployed. In Scotland, one person in every seven is unemployed. In Strathclyde, one person in six is unemployed. In Cunninghame district, which used to be a prosperous district, one person in five is now unemployed. One person in four of the male population in the Cunninghame district adjoining Linwood, is unemployed. In the Garnock Valley, one in three males is unemployed. I walk down the main street of Kilbirnie on Saturday morning and see the advertisement for the unemployment demonstration in Glasgow. It is not necessary to tell the population about it. Every third male one meets on the main street of Kilbirnie is unemployed. The Minister who has industrial responsibilities knows that, because he has been there and he has often heard me saying that. We are facing not just the demise of Linwood, but the end of industrial Scotland—to coin the new mod phrase, the deindustrialisation of west central Scotland.

We are seeing the demise not only of the new industries such as Linwood, but the old industries. New industries, such as Massey-Ferguson at Kilmarnock, Monsanto and Skefco,at Irvine, and the ICI nylon plant at Ardeer—all modern plants built two or three years ago—are closing. We are seeing the complete deindustrialisation of the whole of west central Scotland.

The Secretary of State has said clearly today that he will do something. I have warned the Renfrew district councillors and the shop stewards at Linwood not to be taken in by these initiatives, because we have seen them all before. If any Member of Parliament has seen initiatives, it is myself. My God, I have seen the initiatives. But, we still have those rates of unemployment. The Secretary of State for Scotland will draw everyone together to form an ad hoc committee to discuss the possibilities, but at the end of the day we need not think of the future when deciding the value of those initiatives. We have only to look at the past to see what has happened. In the Garnock Valley we had the initiative of the Scottish Development Agency leading a task force. That task force was successful. We have had the full support of the Scottish Economic Planning Department, the Department of Industry, the Scottish Development Agency, the BSC and the urban development corporation. The task force was successful, yet every third male in the Garnock Valley is unemployed. Although the task force is successful, the traditional and the new industries are still dying. That is what will happen at Linwood if we say that the road out is not to fight for Linwood but to co-operate with the Secretary of State and take part in his initiatives.

An initiative was introduced when the Singer works closed in Clydebank. We were told that it would not be possible to set up a task force there, but that it could be designated an enterprise zone. Thus we have an enterprise zone, things are going well, and that will solve the problems of the job losses in Singers. The Secretary of State and the Minister are meeting representatives of Cunninghame district council on Friday afternoon, to discuss another initiative to deal with the problems of the industrial decline of Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston. I have been told that after they have met the representatives from Renfrew on Friday morning they intend to set up an enterprise trust. We have had a task force and an enterprise zone, and now we shall have an enterprise trust. I am told that that will be a community-based local initiative—what that means, I do not know—which will solve the problems of the Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston area where already one person in five is unemployed.

The Secretary of State for Scotland will need to come up with something better than this fourth initiative if we are to solve the problems. We have had all these initiatives in Scotland. I am suggesting to the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends that the only initiative we need is an initiative on behalf of the Tory Back Benchers to revolt against the policies of the Government, especially those of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Industry.

Mr. Canavan

If my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) thinks back to what happened in 1975, he will realise that all those who are now Ministers voted to destroy the jobs in Linwood. They voted against the rescue deal of the Labour Government. However, there was one exception on the Tory Benches, a constituent of mine, the late Betty Harvie Anderson, who refused the Tory Whip, to protect jobs of her constituents. At that time, Renfrewshire, East was represented by a courageous woman instead of the cowardly puppets sitting on the Tory Benches who are destroying jobs in Linwood and everywhere else in Scotland.

Mr. Lambie

I fully agree. We need an initiative from Tory Back Benchers. Surely, when they go home to their constituencies every weekend, they are told by their supporters, the small family business men who have seen their businesses collapse, and the large industrialists, that the Government must change their policies. I am sure Tory Members are getting the same pressure from their constituents as are Labour Members. I am asking them to take the initiative. We cannot defeat the Government. The Government have an effective majority of 50 in the House. We cannot defeat them alone, but we can defeat them and get a change of policy if the Tory Back Benchers revolt, as they should revolt, when they see the figures. I suggest that the Secretary of State for Scotland—he is one of the decent types of Tory—should take the lead in the revolt against his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Industry. That is the initiative we need.

If we cannot obtain an initiative in the House, we shall see a revolt in the country among people who will no longer stand for the present policies of the Government. If we cannot get rid of the right hon. Lady and her right hon. Friend with the help of the Tories, we shall have to seek the help of our colleagues in the trade union movement.

6.40 pm
Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

All hon Members concerned about the sheer enormity of the crises affecting the areas surrounding Linwood. Every hon. Member can chalk up closures and unemployment in his constituency. We can all see the almost irreversible trend of factories closing and jobs disappearing. But even set against that background, the size of the Linwood closure, with its affect on the surrounding communities in Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Glasgow, is so great that it almost causes us to gasp.

If the closure takes place, the difficulties involved in regenerating the area will be enormous. Once an area's major prop, such as the Linwood plant, is taken away, it becomes almost impossible to replace it. It is in that area that the greatest criticism can be levelled at the Government. From the evidence available, which is very little, it appears that they have not gone out of their way to fight for the retention of the plant. They could at least have tried to mark time and support the factory for one or two years until the economic climate had changed, or until an alternative form of employment could be found. Instead, at the worst possible time they have criminally and callously allowed the factory to go to the wall.

The Scottish Office is in the charge of men who are not prepared to fight for Scotland. I doubt whether the Secretary of State is even a member of the economic subcommittee of the Cabinet, which deals with important matters such as the bank rate, monetary policy, and industrial regeneration. The West of Scotland will rue the day that the Linwood plant closes.

The problem facing the House is that PSA has announced its intention to close Linwood. Strong criticism could be made of the way in which the declaration of intent was drawn up six years ago with two escape clauses. We have not heard anything about the repayment of money that was lavished on PSA some years ago. That £28 million must be returned. Yet there is no sign that the Government intend to do anything about that. The Linwood factory has featured in newspapers and in debates in the House for a long time. At the outset, the factory was bedevilled with the Imp, which had technical problems. It never fulfilled the aims and intentions of the Rootes Group. The Hunter never reached the capacity available for its production.

It is interesting to note that Chrysler threatened to close the Linwood factory during the negotiations that took place in December 1975. Certain promises were made which involved the introduction of the Avenger. A former hon. Member, Douglas Henderson, asked the then Secretary of State whether the declaration of intent would involve the introduction of a new model. The Secretary of State assured him that the declaration of intent envisaged the introduction of a new light car for Scotland by 1979. The fact that that new car has not appeared is a betrayal of the promises given in the House by the then Secretary of State, and also by PSA, which no doubt gave the Secretary of State that same promise. Hon. Members who know the factory better than I could probably tell of the lack of major investment and the lack of a new model for the factory that would be sufficient to withstand the difficulties that it was facing.

The Secretary of State's statement was inadequate. The Secretary of State for Employment also made a statement. Amid jeers and heckling from young Conservatives at their conference, he warned that the problems that faced the North were different from those that faced the South. He put that fact pungently. Yet when the Government take decisions on regional policy they seem oblivious to that fact. Last Thursday I asked the Prime Minister about the future of the car industry in Scotland. She said that Scotland had the benefit of a number of oil jobs, that it had a special advantage, and that the people in Linwood did not begrudge fellow car workers a reasonable future. I am sure that they do not begrudge the car workers in Coventry a reasonable future. But it is dreadful that the Government begrudge the car workers in Linwood a reasonable future in car manufacture.

The Government must do something to replace the jobs that are being lost in that area. We all realise that that will not be an easy task. First, they could endeavour to buy time and to retain PSA until they could achieve another use for the factory that would keep it in production and keep jobs in the locality. They could push for development and try to attract other firms, including Nissan. As the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) said, many other hon. Members will seek to attract that company to their areas, and with good reason—because of the jobs bonus that it will bring. It would show some sincerity if the Government did something other than promise initiatives and talks.

The credibility of the Government—whatever that may be in Scotland—is put to the test because of the closure. The Government appear to have turned their back on the whole concept of regional development, which has grown since the mid 1950, and was intended to retrieve the industrial position of areas with industries that had outlived their modem use, or in which investment had not been sufficient to enable them to keep pace with industries in other countries. The Government could make use of growth centres, industrial incentives, premiums and all the other paraphernalia—yet the evidence is that those regional aids are on longer in use. As has been pointed out by a number of hon. Members, a complete and utter change of the Government's economic policies is required if the vacuum that has been created in our industry is to be filled.

The Labour Party is also on test. There are 44 Labour Members in Scotland. They should fight for the retention of the factory. It should be placed on record that in 1975 11 Scottish National Members forced the then Secretary of State to change his mind. The Government's industrial policy had been to give encouragement to British Leyland, and to cut back assistance to other car manufacturers. On 13 December 1975 The Times stated: The reason for the change to a policy of saving the bulk of Chrysler at almost any price was political and not industrial. The fear was that the loss of jobs at Linwood, near Glasgow, would hurt the Labour Party, to the advantage of the Scottish nationalists. The results of the recent local elections in Scotland have shaken the Government badly. Those who were in the House at that time knew of the strain that the Cabinet was under. The policy on Linwood eventually changed, with the incidental effect of rescuing the Coventry factory.

If the Labour Party wants to live up to its claim of trying to defend Scottish interests it must rescue that factory. It is for Labour Members to do so, and to bring pressure to bear on behalf of Scotland. Otherwise, by going along with the British system of government, they are saying that they are prepared to sacrifice the interests of workers in Scotland to maintain the illusory Union.

6.49 pm
Mr. J. F. Pawsey (Rugby)

As the first Englishman to speak in the debate—[Interruption.] There will be more than one Englishman speaking in the debate, so hon. Members on the Opposition Benches need not worry. I must first declare an interest. I have a Talbot plant in my constituency, at Ryton. That is probably one of the more modern motor plants in the United Kingdom. It is significantly better than most, for over £27 million has been invested in Ryton since 1976. It has a work force that is proud of the cars that it produces. Productivity at Ryton has increased by more than 20 per cent. in the last eighteen months. Ryton has good management, headed by George Turnbull, and a good work force, who know what the mass production of motor cars is about, and the work force has really co-operated with management. It is no accident that Talbot's new model is to be produced at Ryton. That is a vote of confidence in both the Ryton plant and its work force.

Talbot is perhaps more vulnerable than most, if only because of its commitment to the Iranian order. But the situation on the CKD units—the completely knocked-down units—shows that in February some 3,600 of these units will be due for delivery. There will be a substantial rise in March, and a firm CKD programme is now envisaged to the end of the year, as the hon. Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Park) knows, since CKDs are produced in his constituency, at Stoke.

The overall picture for the car industry is gloomy. There are growing imports and shrinking home production and sales. It is apparent that home-made products are not particularly fashionable. The present high value of the pound helps the importer and hinders the exporter, and it is easy for foreign countries and foreign companies to sell on the United Kingdom market.

I wish to speak specifically to the Japanese threat and to consider two aspects of that problem. First, there is the actual level of Japanese penetration. Here, may I refer to a booklet produced by the Ford Motor Company? That booklet shows that job losses in West European car manufacturing by 1985 are estimated as 560,000. That gives the House some idea of the assault that is being mounted on the West European motor industry and of the appalling situation facing the British motor industry. I agree with Fords that a five-year moratorium should apply to cars coming into the United Kingdom, with the exception of those coming from the EEC. That moratorium should act specifically against East European and Japanese vehicles, and also the threat that will come from Korea. There can be little doubt that the situation facing the British motor industry is very worrying indeed.

The second aspect of the problem is Japanese investment in the United Kingdom. I believe that it is better to have imported money than imported cars. Investment brings new jobs, new ideas and new processes. It brings different ideas about tooling and design. I believe that investment can act as a catalyst, and I hope that it will.

There is also the reality, however, that if Japan were not permitted to invest in the United Kingdom the Japanese would invest in mainland Europe. It is clear that if they do not invest in the United Kingdom they will invest in Germany and France, and the British market will then be under assault from cars coming in under an EEC banner.

I turn specifically to Linwood. I refer first to the constructive comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, East (Mr. Stewart). He suggested—and I hope that the Minister will take note of this—that Linwood be designated an enterprise zone. I heard Opposition Members snigger when that suggestion was made. I can only say that if we had the opportunity to have an enterprise zone in the West Midlands we should take it with both hands.

Mr. Les Huckfield (Nuneaton)

Speak for yourself.

Mr. Pawsey

I therefore urge that if such a zone can be created in Linwood, it should be.

I wish to go back to basis—to the original concept of Linwood—and to ask whether it was really practicable or viable in the first place. Was the original decision the right decision?

In 1963, the original company was Rootes. There was a different style of management, but above all there was a different economic climate for motor vehicles. I have spent all my life in industry, including seven years in the motor industry. I worked at Dunlop, which was a major supplier to Rootes and, I believe, to Talbot. I remember the local arguments in Coventry in 1963 against the Rootes move to Linwood. I remember the doubts that were freely expressed at that time about the logistics of the whole concept. Many of the people in the motor industry had reservations about the original decision taken by Sir William Rootes.

The reason for the decision that was taken at that time was easy to understand. Basically, it was the lure of cheap money and grants. Three loans were made in 1961–62, amounting to £9.6 million at 1 ½ per cent. below the then market rate. Between 1963 and 1970, £2.9 million was given in development grants. Those were very substantial sums of money at that time.

I put it to the House that cheap loans and grants do not change the basic facts of geography. Scotland is a long way from Coventry. Cheap loans and grants do not make up for the absence of a labour force skilled in the mass production techniques of the motor industry. They do not make up for being isolated from the major component manufacturers. That point was well made from the Opposition Benches. Cheap loans and grants do not make up for the increased costs of transport and communication.

I clearly understand the driving force of the argument that decided Rootes to build at Linwood. In 1963, employment in the West Midlands was perhaps at its highest level ever. IDCs were almost unobtainable. I also clearly appreciate that whereas employment in the West Midlands was at its highest level the situation in Scotland was very different. Clearly, the Government at that time wished to do something about that. That is the answer to the taunts that I heard earlier about Linwood being built under a Tory Government.

Again, I put the question to the House: was the basic decision in 1963 the right decision? Many doubted then, and many would now say that their doubts were right. I in no way seek to denigrate Scotland in general or Linwood in particular—the Scots have a substantial and justified reputation as being some of the best engineers in the world—nor do I seek to minimise the situation facing the workers and the people of Linwood. I can understand and sympathise with them, because I know exactly how I would feel if Ryton were in the situation in which Linwood now finds itself.

Mr. Huckfield

It will be.

Mr. Pawsey

I do not think that it will. That is the difference between me and the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield). I have some confidence in Talbot. I have confidence in the workpeople and in their products. I believe that Talbot will remain.

On that point, I quote from the letter from George Turnbull about which we have heard so much: Talbot has taken the decision to concentrate its car manufacturing activities in the Midlands. Very regrettably this means the closure of the Linwood Plant in Scotland. This decision was only taken after all possible options had been considered and also after prolonged and considered study of all the Company's manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom. We have carefully examined every possible method of making Linwood viable but all our studies indicate that, whatever course of action we might propose, the plant would continue to be a drain on our financial resources. We now believe that a strong company with a secure future can only be achieved by concentrating car manufacturing activity in the Midlands and, in particular, by developing our activities in the Coventry area. The Ryton assembly plant in Coventry, where the Alpine and Solara models are made, will be further developed and an investment plan to introduce another model at Ryton is now at an advanced stage. That sums up the situation in the Midlands.

The motor industry is in for a tough time, and Talbot cannot be insulated. Surely the new concept will ensure the survival of the maximum possible number of jobs, both at Stoke and at Ryton, as well as in the components industry. What we are seeing in the House today is a new realism. I believe that the action that is being taken by the company will ensure that the largest possible number of jobs is maintained in the Talbot motor company.

7 pm

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I should first declare an interest. Like many other Members from the West of Scotland, I have constituents who work at Linwood. A large number of Labour supporters in Cathcart work at Linwood, and many of them are shop stewards. Many of them come from the area of Castlemilk within my constituency where, like the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie), unemployment is now running at more than 25 per cent. That may not have the same dramatic effect as it does on areas that neighbour Linwood, but it has a significant impact upon the immediate area.

I am also a member of ASTMS. That union has 500 members at Linwood, and someone should say something on their behalf as well as on behalf of the others.

This is a major shock for the West of Scotland. The way in which the Government have handled this matter, both in terms of the negotiations with the company and the way in which they have presented it to this House, is a disgrace. It shows a cowardly giving-in to the company without making a proper investigation of the true facts and without estimating the true economic effects on the West of Scotland.

The Government should have looked a little more carefully at the company's claims that the Linwood factory was unviable and that the products it was making could no longer be sold on the market. I am told that the development costs of the Sunbeam are included in the price of that car—in other words, the company estimates what it costs to produce as against the price at which it sells. However, the Sunbeam was not a new car in the first place. It was an amalgam of various other cars. The development costs of the various parts of that car have already been absorbed in the selling prices of the cars from which it came.

If the company is including those costs in the sale price of the Sunbeam, and at the same time is telling the Government that the Sunbeam is not a saleable car, it is deluding the Government and the Government ought to be aware of that. If it is saying that the Sunbeam is a car which it can no longer sell, why is it that the Linwood factory, which has been on short-working throughout the last year, is now going on to a five-day week on Monday? The workers at Linwood are entitled to say "We are going on a five-day working week so that we can build up the Sunbeam production, so that the company can stockpile Sunbeams to sell on the market and tide it over until it can transfer the manufacturing of the Sunbeam to other factories in Europe". If that is the case, the Government ought to examine the facts carefully, because it seems that the Sunbeam is a car that is worth continuing.

We should be told what the Government said to the company rather than being told that they tried to negotiate and offered money. The Government should have been prepared to consider sanctions against the company if it was not prepared to continue at Linwood. We know that the Talbot company wants only the dealerships in Britain and not the manufacturing. If that is the case, what sanctions were the Government prepared to take against the importation of Peugeot cars in order to save Linwood? If they are not prepared to take such action, the Labour Party should consider what action it is prepared to threaten against Talbot and Peugeot.

My third point relates to full economic cost. My right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) talked about 4,800 jobs being lost at a cost of £25 million. However, research, which the Government have never been able to disprove, suggests that for every job lost in an industry such as the plant at Linwood, 10 other jobs will eventually be lost in the economy. In those circumstances, we are not talking about 4,800 unemployed but probably about 40,000 unemployed. If the Government maintain that these figures are incorrect they should at least produce other figures to disprove them.

If we add loss of revenue and unemployment benefit together, we are talking about an annual cost to the Government of £246 million as a result of the closure of Linwood. That is a much larger figure than £25 million. I am not saying that those figures are correct, but they are based on fairly solid research and the Government have a responsibility to disprove them.

If the figure is £246 million, are the Government prepared, as they ought to be, to spend up to £250 million in the Linwood area and the West of Scotland to retain those jobs at Talbot? That is what it will cost them if they do not. If they are not, what will be the effect on their PSBR targets? If £250 million is taken off those targets, we shall see even more disastrous effects. The roll-on effects of this closure will result in disaster for the West of Scotland.

We intend to join the workers of Linwood in fighting this decision and to do everything we can to ensure either that Linwood does not close or, if it does, that other alternatives are put in its place.

7.8 pm

Mr. William McKelvey (Kilmarnock)

Thank you for calling me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall be as brief as I possibly can.

Since the Conservative Party came to power, there has been an unprecedented acceleration in the destruction of industry across the whole of Scotland, particularly in the West. The industrial map has been rent asunder, leaving behind acres of desolation and scores of factories which are virtually gathering moss. Added to that, the Government have left more than 250,000 human beings miserable as a result of their policies.

It is a sad indictment of the Secretary of State for Scotland that it is being said quite openly in the pubs and clubs around the area, particularly on Clydeside, that in less than two years he has managed to destroy more Scottish industry than Adolf Hitler managed to destroy from 1939 to 1945. That is not to say that I would prefer Adof Hitler to the Secretary of State for Scotland. I merely make that point.

The other day, my hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. Hamilton) described closures in the West of Scotland as "a catalogue of disasters". Because of the shortness of time, it is impossible to list them all. I have a list of the closures that have taken place in Scotland over the past few years, and if they were set out in single columns they would fill two foolscap pages.

I shall mention only some, because the Secretary of State said that through their efforts the Government were bringing industry to Scotland. All of us welcome any jobs that come to Scotland or, indeed, to the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, we ought to discuss the balance of jobs. If Scotland gets 1,000 jobs in the next two or three years—that is ''if", because so far we have not achieved the projected figures—we will all be glad. However, let us consider what we have had to suffer as a result of Government policies.

At Singer on Clydebank, 8,000 jobs have been lost. Another 1,600 have been lost at Massey-Ferguson in Kilmarnock. A further 600 have been lost at Goodyear Tyres, in Drumchapel. Another 900 have been lost at Prestcold, in Hillington. A total of 800 jobs have been lost at the British Steel ironworks at Tollcross. Another 1,700 have been lost at BSR, in East Kilbride. A total of 800 have gone at Monsanto, in Irvine. Another 660 have been lost at Skefco, in Irvine, and a further 700 at ICI, in Ardeer. The total is well over 100,000.

The factories which have been closed or which have partially closed or which are about to close number over 60. That is a terrible indictment of the Secretary of State for Scotland, because he pursues the policies of his Government. If he had fought harder in the Cabinet to reverse these measures, we would not be here today arguing this case.

There is a parallel between what is happening in Linwood and what happened at Kilmarnock to Massey-Ferguson. Here we have the only car production factory in Scotland, just as we had the only combine harvester production plant in Great Britain when Massey-Ferguson were at Kilmarnock. At that time the Secretary of State for Scotland applauded the workers of Massey-Ferguson for their responsible attitude and for the fact that they used great initiative in bringing their case before the public. It was debated here; thousands and thousands of words were spoken about the fate of Massey-Ferguson, and particularly about the responsibility of its workers. Those workers went to the labour exchange with their heads held high and with dignity, but their dignity is now being tested very severely at the labour exchanges in Kilmarnock. I would advise the workers of Linwood that responsibility they must certainly have, but if it ends with their going in a dignified fashion to the labour exchange they will only be suffering the same fate as the workers of Massey-Ferguson.

We have spoken today to the shop stewards, who have said that the workers will fight the redundancies in a responsible fashion; all power to their elbow. Scottish Members on the Opposition Benches will support them in that fight. It is about time that the Secretary of State for Scotland and his colleagues said to them "We will also support you in the fight to prevent redundancies," and not capitulate to the Peugeot people by saying that it is a lost cause.

The Secretary of State drew attention to the fact that the agreement was hardly watertight. It is the kind of agreement which, if it had been struck between management and trade unions through collective bargaining, would have been adhered to by both sides because of its spirit and intent. If a watertight agreement had been signed, would the Secretary of State for Scotland have adhered to it? That is a question which he did not answer. We still do not know what is to happen about the £28 million that is owed.

We ought to be advertising the fact that Peugeot are double-dealers. Had they been sincere when they signed the agreement, in wishing to advance the cause for Linwood they would have pumped more capital into that factory and at least have given it a new model. These things they failed to do because they had planned over the years to dispose of Linwood. Now we know precisely what they are and we should not be afraid to say so. I ask that the Secretary of State for Scotland and his colleagues join the Linwood workers in fighting the redundancies.Let us have no more mealy-mouthed statements—

Mr. Gary Waller (Brighouse and Spenborough)

Will the hon. Member give way?

Mr. McKelvey

No, I am not giving way.

Mr. Waller

I am terribly sorry to intervene but I represent a car worker constituency—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

Has the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. McKelvey) given way?

Mr. McKelvey


Mr. Deputy Speaker

If the hon. Member for Kilmarnock does not give way, the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Waller) must resume his seat.

Mr. Mckelvey

I was just about to wind up by saying that we are fed up with these mealy-mouthed platitudes of the Secretary of State for Scotland. We want no more of phrases such as "Appropriate action will be taken to see that industry comes," because in Ayrshire we are sick to death of hearing them. We want action. Action can be taken now to redress the decline of Scottish industry by helping the people of Linwood to fight. Most of all, the Secretary of State must fight within the Cabinet to reverse the lunatic decisions of the Government in following their madcap monetarist theories.

7.14 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Perth and East Perthshire)

I wish to speak briefly in this extremely serious and disturbing debate. There is much more than the closure of Linwood in the lessons that are coming from the debate. Everyone in manufacturing industry would acknowledge that there are three interrelated and interdependent parts in any manufacturing concern—first, the workers; secondly, management; and, thirdly, the customer. If, for whatever reason, anyone of these three fails to produce that which is expected the result can mean, as is happening in this case, a loss of business and a loss of sales.

Loans and grants are no substitute for goods that will sell, for good and effective management, or for good industrial relations and high productivity. The sad story of Linwood is that the products were not bought in sufficient quantity. It has been suggested that the models should be stockpiled. Anyone who has run a business knows that stockpiling means money that is not working, and that money not working at today's borrowing costs is prohibitive. That is an exercise that no one in his right mind could contemplate, so stockpiling does not seem to be an option in this situation.

I should like to turn to the problem of designs. If one is to remain effective in this competitive area there is no doubt that designs that will sell are vital. That is a management responsibility, and management has failed abysmally. At Linwood, three successive managements have failed to produce models that will sell. I wonder how many hon. Members on the Opposition Benches drive cars that were made at Linwood. That more than anything, sums up the situation. In the end the customer determines. If the customer will not buy, no amount of Government money, no cajoling and no effort by Government can ever make up for that.

If the workers are not led properly and if management is inept and does not produce the right models, one ought not to be surprised if productivity levels are not good and industrial relations are suspect. In the end I blame three successive managements for this failure. We must learn from that. That is vital. We should not pour more and more Government money into managements that are suspect, because that will not create permanent prosperity for the people of Scotland or anywhere else.

It is completely wrong for us to make a political football out of jobs. Jobs are too serious a thing for us to be making snide political comments about them. What we should be doing in Scotland is trying to see how we can work together to present the best face of Scotland. Scotland has a good face. But we will not bring jobs or industrial investment to Scotland if we continue to delude ourselves that, somehow, Government money will in the end create products that customers will buy. That is not possible; it is not practicable; it is just nonsense.

7.18 pm
Mr. Allen Adams (Paisley)

I start my speech, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in a way that one probably should not start; that is, by apologising for the peculiar habit that I seem to have acquired in the House over the past three of four weeks, of consistently saying "You". Let me assure you, Sir, that the insults are not intended for you. I would not, however, say that they are not intended.

I am sure that other hon. Members, like myself, will be shocked, appalled, horrified—all the usual words—at the apathy, the indifference, the contempt and the slothful approach of the Government Front Bench this afternoon. On a day when we are discussing the loss of 2,000, 3,000, 4,000—or perhaps 6,000, 7,000 or 8,000 jobs when we take into account all the feeder industries that will be affected—it must be unique that Ministers can claim successes. They can say "All right, we are losing 8,000 jobs here, but a small shop has been opened round the corner which is employing two people". It has almost reached the stage at which if someone opens a front window in Springburn Road and starts selling chips it will be claimed as a major success by the Government.

I was appalled to hear the comments of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). He should be reminded that he is one of the people responsible for putting the Tories into power.

Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)

My hon. Friend is referring to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). The whole House is sickened by the hypocrisy displayed by the hon. Member, who once again has spilt out his poison, trying to divide workers north and south of the border.

Mr. Adams

I am never in any difficulty in distinguishing between my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) and the hon. Member for Dundee, East.

I was one of the first employees of Rootes, as it then was, when I left school. I served a five-year apprenticeship. There were mistakes at the very begining. The Rootes family were good at motor manufacture but made some fundamental errors, one of which was their obsession with aluminium engines and gear boxes. Also, they were late in the market, and the Mini was by that time a well-established product. The company was then sold to Chrysler. Chrysler had a lot of Government money, and went away. Peugeot-Citroen came in and had more Government money, and now they are going away.

We are annoyed at the lack of response from the British Government. If a British company had behaved in similar way in France, is it likely that the French Government would have responded in the same way? Of course they would not have. There is to be a general election in France this year and the French Government are prepared to take a much stronger line with French companies to retain involvement and employment in France than the British Government are prepared to take to keep involvement in this country.

I believe that the Government are elected to look after the people, not to do what the Government have done—to wash their hands and behave like Pontius Pilate, saying "It is a commercial decision". It can never be just a commercial decision. That is withdrawal by the State on a broad front, which I do not accept against the background of the unemployment in the Paisley area.

During December, Paisley lost 1,500 jobs, in the food manufacturer CPC, Ciba-Geigy and the textile mills, and one of the finishing companies intends to shut down within the next month or two. Yet the Government are sitting back as if they had nothing at all to do with it, telling the people of Scotland that it is a commercial decision and that the Government cannot intervene. The Government simply do not want to intervene. It is not a question of their not being able to. If the price is right the Government can intervene in anything, but they are not prepared to pay the price; they are taking a deliberate doctrinaire stand.

I should like to hear from Ministers at what point they are prepared to intervene. We lost 1,500 jobs in December; we are now losing 8,000. Do we have to lose another 5,000 jobs, or another 10,000 jobs, before the Government will intervene? Will they please tell the people of Scotland at what point they intend to intervene, or will this go on and on until no one is working?

I object to the deception that has been practised on the House. I accept that the Minister did not know the company's intention. The Minister told us last week that there was no knowledge of what the company's decision would be. When I telephoned home on Wednesday morning my wife answered the telephone and told me that there was a letter for me from the company saying that it was to be closed down. At 6.45 pm the previous night I was meeting Ministers. If the Minister says that he did not know, I accept what he says, because he is an honourable Member.

What do the Government intend to say to the company now? The company has deceived the House and the Government. The company has treated the Government, the House and the people of Scotland in a contemptuous way. People have a right to expect Ministers to take steps against people who act in that way; for instance, by taking a serious look at the company's franchise to sell cars in this country. I believe that right from the outset the company did not particularly want to produce cars in this country; it wanted to purchase the company purely for the franchise.

The closure of Linwood is the thin end of the wedge. It affects the Stoke engine plant. If no cars are being produced at Linwood, fewer engines will be needed and fewer will be produced. That leaves Stoke dependent on the Iran order, and that is not a very stable market. So we have Linwood today and perhaps Stoke next year. I doubt whether the company has any serious intention of producing a new model. Actions speak louder than words, and we shall believe it when we see it.

I ask the Minister to tell the people of Scotland what precisely he intends to do. He owes it to the people of Scotland to take firm action against the company and to say to the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Scottish people, that this company should be saved in one of the following ways: by Government intervention, by setting up a State holding company, by dissuading Peugeot-Citroen from leaving, or by bringing someone in. If none of those options is acceptable to the Prime Minister, the Minister should say to her "Find another Secretary of State for Scotland."

7.27 pm
Mr. George Park (Coventry, North-East)

The Secretary of State for Scotland was at pains to draw the parallel between the present situation and what happened when Chrysler opened the Talbot firm. There are parallels, but I am forced to the conclusion that the Secretary of State for Scotland knew nothing about these parallels and the weaknesses in the declaration of intent until he looked at the speech written for him by his civil servants for this afternoon. If the Secretary of State knew about weaknesses in the declaration of intent and did nothing about them he stands condemned of having a callous disregard for the fortunes of the people in Linwood.

My main purpose in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, is to make it clear that the employees in the Talbot works in Coventry derive no satisfaction from the Company's decision to close Linwood and to concentrate its activities in the Midlands. The Coventry workers know that they are part of an integrated activity, and that what affects one rubs off on another. That aspect has not been lost on the French workers of Talbot. We understand that a message of support has come from the metal workers' union in France, the CGT, pledging its solidarity and support for the workers of Linwood in the fight to retain their jobs.

There is considerable scepticism in Coventry as to whether the operation there will survive, even if Linwood closes. A Linwood closure does not strengthen Coventry's position. In fact, it makes the position there more vulnerable, because it would become an even smaller part of a company which could absorb it in France without loss of production. The Coventry factory has had to take its full share of the 5,000 redundancies that have taken place in the past few years.

Members of Parliament of all political persuasions expressed their concern to Ministers before Christmas, and even in that short time 450 more jobs have gone at Ryton. The Scottish closure will have an impact on the Stoke works of possibly a further 800 jobs. To lose a basic 5,000 jobs at Linwood, plus the peripheral effects, makes the Coventry employees wonder when the axe will fall on them, not whether it will fall.

Their prospects on the job market are not good. The present unemployment levels in Coventry bear a close resemblance to the unemployment levels in Paisley. That is something that should be recognised. It did no good for the morale of all the Talbot employees to know that the Peugeot company paid Chrysler only one dollar for the entire United Kingdom production. Peugeot was really only interested in the dealer network and the commercial vehicle section at Luton and Dunstable. We are seeing an unfolding of the plans that the company had from the very beginning.

The irony is that in a matter of months the components made at Linwood will be produced at the Mulhouse plant owned by Talbot. Moreover—and I say this mainly for the benefit of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Pawsey), who thinks that he is getting a new Ryton model—the new Metro size C15 is to be made in France. That is evidence, if evidence were needed, that when multinational companies get into trouble it is the peripheral companies that take the brunt. Productivity improvements of the order of an admitted 20 per cent. have made no impact whatever on the decision makers.

The work at present proposed for the Coventry factory is such that we are close to the point where we shall be mere assemblers of parts made in France. Frankly, I do not believe that Ministers have tried hard enough. They have approached the management in a stereotyped fashion, instead of recognising that this extraordinary situation needed extraordinary efforts on their part.

No Talbot employee in Coventry can really feel sure that his future is secure beyond the very short term. I hope, therefore, that it will be possible to delay the implementation of the decision, and that there will be further investigation into it. Moreover, I hope that it will not be confined to Linwood but will extend to the United Kingdom operations of Talbot.

7.34 pm
Mr. Les Huckfield (Nuneaton)

There is one significant feature that has not emerged so far in this interesting debate, and that is that, if the closure goes ahead, British Leyland will be the only complete car manufacturer left in this country. Every other company will be either assembling foreign-manufactured or foreign-designed cars. The most serious defect of the strategy now being put forward by the Government is that, as yet, Leyland is left with no new model in the biggest selling sector of the model range.

We are now witnessing a cosmetic operation designed to conceal the gradual but complete exodus of Talbot from this country. It is not just a matter of Linwood. As my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Park) said, unless new work comes to the Coventry Stoke works, at least 50 per cent. of the work force there will have nothing to do by June of this year.

The factory at Ryton has been working one day a week since last August. It is all very well for company press releases to talk about new models, but so far Ryton has been given no details of any new models. We have been given vague promises, but we have seen no details.

I echo my hon. Friend's words. My constituents, like his, as well as the workers at the Coventry works of Talbot, derive no joy from the Linwood closure. Nor do the workers in Talbot France. My hon.Friend mentioned the telegram of support, of which we received a copy from the Scottish TUC today. The CGT's telegram expresses its Full solidarity with Talbot workers in unions and in any action they may see fit to take to defend their jobs and livelihood against the plans of this multinational company". The Government may not have had a favourable answer from the Talbot employers, but the unions in Talbot have had a favourable and solid response from the unions in Talbot France.

We are witnessing the complex pattern that has evolved in international car manufacturing. The problem in this country is not just the fact that the import sector of the market is going up but that there has been a switch from manufacturing to assembling. We are fast becoming a country that imports other countries' completed cars or half-completed cars in boxes and puts them together. The Talbot development that has taken place over the past two or three weeks is very much part of that pattern.

However, that is something that the Government do not seem to understand. Three separate statements on the car industry have been made since the beginning of the year, and there seems to be no connection between them. The Government do not seem to recognise the size of the problem, let alone have a coherent strategy to deal with it.

Even if the British Government are not determined to see that their car industry survives, the French Government are determined to preserve theirs. They have already made a gesture of recognition that PSA Citroen has taken on more than it can manage. As far as we can understand, the French Government have already made new premises available to PSA Citroen in France. But they have gone further. They have offered to pay the wages of the workers in those factories for a limited time. That is the kind of competition that Talbot France provides.

Have the Government ever bothered to find out the loss situation? Have they discovered that the Talbot France losses in the first six months of last year were twice the Talbot UK losses? Did not the Government inquire why, when Talbot France losses were twice as big as the Talbot UK losses, the United Kingdom operation was scheduled for closure?

Talbot France is offered two completely free factories and also receives an offer to pay the wages of the workers in those factories. That is the kind of competition that we are up against. The Government say that all they will make available to Talbot UK is the same kind of offer that any other company would have received. I do not believe that the Government have even tried.

The French Government have been adept at protecting their car industry; this Government have also been adept at protecting the French car industry. Today we have heard Front Bench speeches not from the Industry Department but from the Talbot public relations department. A Conservative Government took Rootes to Scotland in 1963; if they are allowed to do so, a Conservative Government will preside over the killing off of Linwood in 1981.

Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St.Helens)

Not long ago a French senior Minister stated that if agricultural workers were to be unemployed they would not be French. That applies equally to the car industry.

Mr. Huckfield

My hon. Friend is right. The French Government's determination to preserve their agricultural and industrial sectors puts this Government's policies in the shade.

In 1975, with only half the current level of unemployment, a Labour Government were prepared to make available a package deal of £162 million to keep Chrysler in the country. This Government are prepared only to make available to Talbot the same assistance that any other manufacturer might get.

We are concerned not only with the pusillanimous way that the Government have caved in to Talbot but with the way that they announced the news. My right hon. Friend criticised the Secretary of State for being in Brussels at the time when the announcement was due. I received a letter telling me of the closure posted in Coventry on the Tuesday morning. When we met the Minister of State on the Tuesday evening he said that he still had not been told about the closure, although he had a pretty good idea about the decision. I can understand why George Turnbull asked me in his letter to keep the information confidential. It was not only to give the company time to inform its employees. He was asking that the information be kept from the Government, too. The Government appear to have suffered from a lack of information in the discussions.

The Government have behaved throughout like innocent bystanders. A £28 million loan is still outstanding, the company has received £64 million of taxpayer's money in grants, and there are £215 million of unutilised tax losses—a free tax holiday for the company if it wishes to stay in the country. We met the Secretary of State on 15 December and he told us, as constituency Members, that he would not hesitate to use the sanction of the remaining loan. Why, therefore, does Mr. Turnbull say publicly that the £28 million loan was not mentioned in the discussions? Despite the meetings and the promises, the Government did not even try. They let Talbot walk all over them. That is our criticism.

The Government are failing to safeguard an investment made by successive Governments on behalf of the British taxpayer. If the pressure of the declaration of intent signed by the company, promising equality of treatment and investment, the £28 million loan outstanding and the £215 million tax loss that so far has been unutilised cannot keep Talbot in the country, how can the Government believe that they can keep Vauxhall in the country? We shall soon have the same problem with Vauxhall. If the Government adopt the same attitude, I shudder for the workers at Vauxhall.

If, unlike the French Government, this Government are not prepared to intervene to protect our manufacturing base, why do not they intervene on grounds of regional policy? The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East (Mr. Stewart) regretted the fact that Rootes had gone to Linwood. That can only be an argument for having no regional policy. It was right for Rootes to go to Linwood as the critical centre of a regional policy for that part of Scotland—and it was a Conservative Government in office at the time. We supported the move. If the factory closes, the key ingredient of that regional strategy will be removed. Instead of affording the area special development area status or a new form of assistance, it would be far more preferable for the Government to increase the present assistance to keep the factory going. Other alternatives could also have been considered for manufacture in the plant, and it is not too late now.

Many Conservative Members will be voting for the second time to close Linwood. If Talbot and Linwood die it will be because the Government passed by on the other side. The workers of Scotland and the workers of Talbot all over the country will know who is to blame. I therefore invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to support us in the Lobby.

7.47 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Norman Tebbit)

Two major themes have been apparent in the debate. I regret the theme that was introduced when the right hon Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) opened the debate. As my right hon. Friend said, his speech was carping, ill-natured, irrelevant, petty, unjustified and niggling over peripheral issues, such as whether my right hon. Friend should have been in the House last Wednesday. The right hon. Gentleman did not even have the courtesy to admit that he had received a letter from my right hon. Friend. In half an hour of niggling rubbish there was not one constructive thought. The right hon. Gentleman's speech was a melancholy whine. It was the sort of speech that gives the House a bad name. The right hon. Gentleman should consider how his speech will sound to those outside the House, not least the workers at Linwood. He merely picked a petty quarrel with my right hon. Friend.

The theme was taken up by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), who referred to the failure of regional policy. Yes, the closure is a failure of regional policy. The company has failed since 1963. The firm has had three sets of owners. It has been the subject of intense, solemn and binding agreements, which did not bind anyone. It has received massive subsidies. Except in one year, it has never made a profit. That must show that there was something adrift, not merely with the policies that have been pursued in the last two years but ever since 1963. I accept that, as does the hon. Gentleman. It behoves us to consider how we should manage these things better.

Mr. Buchan

That does not prove the impotence of regional policy. It shows the failure of companies, even when supported by regional policy, to put in from the beginning the sort of investment that was necessary. In this connection, tribute has been paid to the work of the labour force. What was lacking was fresh investment, fresh plant and fresh models. That is the problem. The Government have the responsibility for bringing about such changes.

Mr. Tebbit

I do not want to be unduly unkind to the hon. Gentleman. I am told that it is not the thing to do in the House. However, since PSA took over the company it has put in £110 million of investment and has got nothing out of it except losses.

Mr. Buchan

Not at Linwood.

Mr. Tebbit

I am not saying that it was at Linwood. The hon. Member cannot get by by just shouting at me. PSA has put in £110 million.

Mr. Huckfield

Give way.

Mr. Tebbit

No, I shall not give way. The company has had to subsidise losses that have been made. The hon. Gentleman can ask the company about it. He is complaining all the time that Ministers are acting as PRO agents for the company. I shall give the outline figures, that is all.

The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends talk about the conduct of this company. I hold no brief for the company. I do not have to do so.

Mr. Buchan

The Minister is reading a brief.

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Gentleman must not say things that he knows are untrue. He can hardly expect that my notes were written for me by PSA this afternoon while I was on the Bench. He is just plain ignorant about these matters. I must tell him that the losses made by the company per car are twice as high at Linwood as the average across the whole company. That must stick in his mind.

The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West gave a wearisome recital of the same old half-truths.

Mr. Huckfield

Name one.

Mr. Tebbit

I have never been to a Scottish football match, and I am not encouraged to go to one after the way in which the House has behaved this afternoon.

I know that the hon. Gentleman tries to listen from time to time, but he never seems to hear anything that is said to him. In a last despairing effort, I shall tell him again what has been told him time and time again. I shall outline the final sequence of the meetings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I saw the PSA company on Monday. That was not our first meeting with the representatives of Talbot. We had had a continuing dialogue with them over a considerable time. No last-ditch stand was going on, with bidding up with cash. The company told us its worries and how it saw the situation.

On Tuesday night, I told the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends that we had seen the company and that it had undertaken to consider, at its board meeting, what we had said. I could not tell the hon. Gentleman that that board meeting was to be held first thing on Tuesday morning because it was not guaranteed that that meeting would come to a final conclusion, and it would not have been right for me to do so. I was not in contact with the company during the day.

On Wednesday, the company made its statement. Clearly, it had been prepared for a decision by the board, and had posted the letters on Tuesday night after the meeting.

Mr. Huckfieldrose

Mr. Tebbit

I shall not give way. That is the truth. That is the story, and I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman cannot accept it.

The hon. Gentleman's speech was characterised by his half-baked concept of suddenly deciding that MG motor cars should be made at Linwood. He thought that that would be the way out of all the problems. That theme was taken up and echoed many times by Opposition Members. In contrast to that, there was another theme.

A constructive theme was offered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, my hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram), for Rugby (Mr. Pawsey), for Renfrewshire, East (Mr. Stewart) and for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker). They recognised the history of the problems that have hit the company. They frankly recognised the scale of Government investment in it—loans of £64½ million, grants of £90 million, and never a profit, except in one year. Is that the basis on which we can resurrect the motor industry in Scotland? I strongly doubt it.

The industry will not be helped by lunatic suggestions that punitive measures should be taken against the company, trying to take its motor cars back and trying to crush its dealer network. Such suggestions are childish. They are the wilder dreams of people who have not made any attempt in their lives to run a business.

Those suggestions were better categorised by one of the barmiest suggestions of the whole day, made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton). He suggested that we should subsidise continuing production of Sunbeam motor cars to be stored—his genuine little Sunbeam mountain. He could not understand why anyone thought it was funny. That suggestion was not funny—it was plain ridiculous.

What attracts investors—whether domestic or from overseas—to operate in this country is not the sort of debate that we have had this afternoon. No one would be attracted to this country if he thought that the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield) might be a member of the Government again.It was suggested that we could virtually lock up the company and refuse to let it go home. The hon. Member says that the French could have done it. Of course they could not. They have no more power to compel a company to stay in France than we have. The hon. Member should ask himself what has happened to the Leyland factory at Seneffe. I know that it is not in France; my geography is not as bad as that. However, it is typical of what happens on these occasions.

The attraction for a country is not the sort of inflationary policies followed by the Labour Government. It is not having to live through winters of discontent and strikes. It is not the Price Commission, the planning agreements, or sterling plunging to $1.60 and the Government's having to call in the IMF that encourages investment in this country. Honest money encourages such attraction, with commercial freedom, sensible labour practices, low taxes and rates, and competitive component manufacturers. There is no hope that we can persuade—

Mr. Huckfield


Mr. Tebbit

If the hon. Gentleman cries incessantly, like a parrot, he is unlikely to hear anything that is said to him. If he tries it, he will find it difficult to keep his mouth and ears open at the same time. I suggest that he tries keeping his mouth closed and his ears open for a moment.

There is little prospect of maintaining PSA in Scotland, at Linwood. We have to accept that. Many of my hon. Friends and many Opposition Members are glad that PSA, through Talbot, has a continuing commitment to stay in manufacturing in the Midlands and in the truck business at Dunstable.

It is sad that Opposition Members never looked more miserable or downcast than they did when my right hon. Friend was listing new jobs and new industries. [Interruption.] Need I say more? They chose to sneer at the odd 1, 000 jobs. They sneered at jobs in the hundreds, although such jobs are the best. They are in the firms that will grow in a way that Rootes, Chrysler and Talbot could never grow. Such firms have not been dragged struggling, with their arms held behind their backs and money pushed into their pockets, to go to places that they do not want to go to. Such firms really want to go.

I remind the House of what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland said earlier. There is a success story in Scotland. I refer to the success story of Digital Equipment Ltd., which employs some constituents in Central Ayrshire. I used to work for Digital Equipment Ltd. and I know the inside story of what brought that company to Ayrshire. It was not regional grants. They were regarded as Green Shield stamps. The company went to Ayrshire because it wanted to go there. I had something to do with that decision. The company decided to go to that part of the country because it was impressed with the quality of the labour force and because a site was available. It was impressed with the history of good industrial relations in that part of Scotland, and the education facilities were good. The company believed that it could be successful there.

That decision would have been the object of sneers today, because only 200 jobs were involved. Today, 700 jobs are involved and the company is still growing.

The Government's policy is to make Britain an attractive place in which companies can grow and not decline in the way that the company at Linwood has declined since 1963. I do not have a word of regret for what the Government have done. My right hon. Friends and I regret the disaster that has come from the failure of the enterprise at Linwood. That does not mean that we believe in pushing more money on to a reluctant employer, who has said that he could not succeed even on a 100 per cent. grant.

I ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to go into the Division Lobby tonight in total contempt for the Opposition motion and in support of the amendment.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided:Ayes 240, Noes 297.

Division No.73 [8.4 pm
Adams, Allen Ashley, Rt Hon Jack
Allaun, Frank Ashton, Joe
Alton, David Atkinson, N.(H'gey, )
Anderson, Donald Bagier, Gordon AT.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Barnett, Guy(Greenwich)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd)
Benn, Rt Hon A. Wedgwood Hamilton, James(Bothwell)
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp'tN) Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Bidwell, Sydney Hardy, Peter
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Boothroyd, MissBetty Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Bradley, Tom Haynes, Frank
Bray, Dr Jeremy Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Heffer, Eric S.
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Hogg, N.(EDunb't'nshire)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Holland, S.(L'b'th, Vauxh'll)
Buchan, Norman HomeRobertson.John
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Homewood, William
Callaghan.Jim(Midd't'n&P) Hooley, Frank
Campbell, Ian Horam, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale Howell, Rt HonD.
Canavan, Dennis Huckfield, Les
Cant, R. B. Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Mark(Durham)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Robert (AberdeenN)
Cartwright, John Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Clark, Dr David (SShields) Janner, HonGreville
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Cohen, Stanley Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Coleman, Donald Johnston, Russell(Inverness)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Conlan, Bernard Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Cook, RobinF. Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cowans, Harry Kerr, Russell
Craigen, J. M. Kilfedder, JamesA.
Crowther, J.S. Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cryer, Bob Kinnock, Neil
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lambie, David
Cunningham, G.(lslingtonS) Lamborn, Harry
Cunningham, DrJ.(W'h'n) Lamond, James
Dalyell, Tam Leadbitter, Ted
Davidson, Arthur Leighton, Ronald
Davies, Rt HonDenzil(L'lli) Lestor, Miss Joan
Davies, Ifor(Gower) Lewis, Anhur(N'hamNW)
Davis, Clinton (HackneyC) Litherland, Robert
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Deakins, Eric Lyon, Alexander(York)
Dewar, Donald Lyons, Edward (Bradf'dW)
Dixon, Donald Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Dobson, Frank McCartney, Hugh
Dormand, Jack McDonald, DrOonagh
Douglas, Dick McElhone, Frank
Dubs, Alfred McGuire, Michael(Ince)
Duffy, A. E. P. McKelvey, William
Dunn, James A. MacKenzie, Rt HonGregor
Dunnett, Jack Maclennan, Robert
Dunwoody, MrsG. McMahon, Andrew
Eadie, Alex McNally, Thomas
Eastham, Ken McTaggart, Robert
Ellis, R. (NED'bysh're) McWilliam, John
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Magee, Bryan
English, Michael Marks, Kenneth
Ennals, Rt Hon David Marshall, D(G'gowS'ton)
Evans, John (Newton) Marshall, DrEdmund (Goole)
Ewing, Harry Marshall, Jim (LeicesterS)
Field, Frank Martin, M(G'gowS'burn)
Fitch, Alan Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Flannery, Martin Maxton, John
Fletcher, Ted(Darlington) Maynard, Miss Joan
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Michael
Ford, Ben Mellish, Rt HonRobert
Forrester, John Mikardo, lan
Foster, Derek Millan, RtHonBruce
Foulkes, George Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Mitchell, R.C. (Soton Itchen)
Freeson, RtHon Reginald Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Garrett,John(Norwich S) Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
George, Bruce Morton, George
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Ginsburg, David Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Golding, John Newens, Stanley
Gourlay, Harry Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Graham, Ted O'Halloran, Michael
Grant, John (IslingtonC) O'Neill, Martin
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Stoddart, David
Palmer, Arthur Stott, Roger
Park, George Strang, Gavin
Parker, John Straw, Jack
Parry, Robert Summerskill, HonDrShirley
Pendry, Tom Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Penhaligon, David Thomas, Dafydd(Merioneth)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Thomas, Jeffrey(Abertillery)
Prescott, John Thomas, Mike (NewcastleE)
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Thome, Stan (PrestonSouth)
Race, Reg Tilley, John
Radice, Giles Tinn, James
Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S) Torney, Tom
Richardson, Jo Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wainwright, E, (DearneV)
Roberts, Ernest (HackneyN) Watkins, David
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Weetch, Ken
Robertson, George Welsh, Michael
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) White, Frank R.
Rodgers, Rt HonWilliam White, J. (G'gowPollok)
Rooker, J.W. Whitehead, Phillip
Roper, John Whitlock, William
Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Wigley, Dafydd
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Rowlands, Ted Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Ryman, John Williams, SirT.(W'ton)
Sever, John Wilson, Gordon (DundeeE)
Sheerman, Barry Wilson, Rt HonSirH.(H'ton)
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Wilson, William (C'trySE)
Silkin, Rt HonJ. (Deptford) Winnick, David
Silverman, Julius Woodall, Alec
Skinner, Dennis Woolmer, Kenneth
Smith, Rt HonJ. (N Lanark)
Soley, Clive Tellers for the Ayes: Mr.
Spriggs, Leslie Joseph Dean and Mr. Alan
Stallard, A. W. McKay
Adley, Robert Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)
Aitken, Jonathan Chalker, Mrs. Lynda
Alexander, Richard Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul
Alison, Michael Chapman, Sydney
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Churchill, W.S.
Ancram, Michael Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)
Arnold, Tom Clark, SirW. (CroydonS)
Atkins, RobBert(PrestonN) Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th.E) Clegg, SirWalter
Baker, Kenneth (St.M'bone) Cockeram, Eric
Baker, Nicholas (NDorset) Colvin, Michael
Banks, Robert Cope, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Cormack, Patrick
Bell, SirRonald Corrie, John
Bendall, Vivian Costain, SirAlbert
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Cranborne, Viscount
Bevan, David Gilroy Critchley, Julian
Biffen, Rt HonJohn Crouch, David
Biggs-Davison, John Dean, Paul (NorthSomerset)
Blackburn, John Dickens, Geoffrey
Body, Richard Dorrell, Stephen
Bonsor, SirNicholas Douglas-Hamilton, LordJ.
Boscawen, HonRobert Dover, Denshore
Bottomley, Peter(W'wichW) du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Bowden, Andrew Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Boyson, DrRhodes Durant, Tony
Bright, Graham Dykes, Hugh
Brinton, Tim Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Brittan, Leon Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Brooke, Hon Peter Eggar, Tim
Brotherton, Michael Elliott, SirWilliam
Brown, M(BriggandScun) Emery, Peter
Browne, John (Winchester) Eyre, Reginald
Bruce-Gardyne, John Fairbairn, Nicholas
Bryan, Sir Paul Fairgrieve, Russell
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Farr, John
Buck, Antony Fell, Anthony
Budgen, Nick Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bulmer, Esmond Finsberg, Geoffrey
Burden, SirFrederick Fisher, SirNigel
Carlisle, John(Luton West) Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'ghN)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Fletcher-Cooke, SirCharles
Fookes, Miss Janet McQuarrie, Albert
Forman, Nigel Major, John
Fowler, Rt HonNorman Marland, Paul
Fox, Marcus Marlow, Tony
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh MarshallMichael(Arundel)
Fraser, Peter (SouthAngus) Mates, Michael
Fry, Peter Mather, Carol
Galbraith, HonT. G. D. Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Gardiner, Qeorge(Reigate) Mawby, Ray
Gardner, Edward (SFylde) Mawhinney, DrBrian
Garel-Jones, Tristan Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Glyn, DrAlan Mayhew, Patrick
Goodhart, Philip Mellor, David
Good lad, Alastair Miller, Hal(B'grove)
Gorst, John Mills, lain(Menden)
Gow, Ian Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Gray, Hamish Miscampbell, Norman
Greenway, Harry Mitchell, David(Basingstoke)
Grieve, Percy Moate, Roger
Griffiths, E. (B'ySt.Edmds) Monro, Hector
Griffiths, Peter Portsm'thN) Montgomery, Fergus
Grist, Ian Moore, John
Grylls, Michael Morris, M. (N'hamptonS)
Gummer, JohnSelwyn Morrison, HonC. (Devizes)
Hamilton, Michael(Salisbury) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hampson, DrKeith Mudd, David
Hannam, John Murphy, Christopher
Haselhurst, Alan Myles, David
Hastings, Stephen Needham, Richard
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Nelson, Anthony
Hawkins, Paul Neubert, Michael
Hawksley, Warren Newton, Tony
Hayhoe, Barney Nott, Rt Hon John
Heddle, John Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Henderson, Barry Page, John (Harrow, West)
Heseltine, Rt HonMichael Page, Rt Hon SirG. (Crosby)
Hicks, Robert Page, Richard (SWHerts)
Higgins, Rt HonTerence L. Parris, Matthew
Hill, James Patten, Christopher(Bath)
Hogg, Hon Douglas(Gr'th'm) Patten, John (Oxford)
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Pattie, Geoffrey
Hooson, Tom Pawsey, James
Hordern, Peter Percival, Sirlan
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Peyton, Rt Hon John
Howell, Rt HonD.(G'df'd) Pink, R. Bonner
Howell, Ralph (NNorfolk) Pollock, Alexander
Hunt, David (Wirral) Porter, Barry
Hunt, John(Ravensbourne) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Irving, Charles(Cheltenham) Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Prior, Rt Hon James
Jessel, Toby Proctor, K. Harvey
Jopling, RtHonMichael Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Raison, Timothy
Kaberry, SirDonald Rathbone, Tim
Kellett-Bowman, MrsElaine Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Kimball, Marcus Renton, Tim
King, Rt Hon Tom Rhodes James, Robert
Kitson, SirTimothy Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Knight, Mrs Jill Ridley, HonNicholas
Knox, David Ridsdale, Julian
Lamont, Norman Rifkind, Malcolm
Lang, Ian Rippon, RtHonGeoffrey
Langford-Holt, SirJohn Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Latham, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lawrence, Ivan Rossi, Hugh
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rost, Peter
Lee, John Royle, SirAnthony
Lester Jim (Beeston) Sainsbury, HonTimothy
Lewis.Kenneth(Rutland) St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Scott, Nicholas
Lloyd, Peter(Fareham) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Loveridge, John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Luce, Richard Shelton, William(Streatham)
Lyell, Nicholas Shepherd, Colin(Hereford)
McCrindle, Robert Shepherd, Richard
Macfarlane, Neil Shersby, Michael
MacGregor, John Silvester, Fred
MacKay.John(Argyll) Sims, Roger
McNair-Wilson, M(N'bury) Skeet, T. H. H.
McNair-Wilson, P. (NewF'st) Smith, Dudley
Speed, Keith Vaughan,DrGerard
Spence,John Viggers,Peter
Spicer, Jim (WestDorset) Waddington,David
Spicer, Michael (SWorcs) Wakeham,John
Sproat,lain Waldegrave,HonWilliam
Squire,Robin Walker, RtHon P.(W'cester)
Stainton,Keith Walker, B. (Perth)
Stanbrook,lvor Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Stanley,John Wall,Patrick
Steen,Anthony Waller, Gary
Stevens,Martin Walters,Dennis
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Ward,John
Stewart, A. (ERenfrewshire) Warren,Kenneth
Stokes,John Watson,John
StradlingThomas.J. Wells,John(Maidstone)
Tapsell, Peter Wells, Bowen
Taylor, Robert (CroydonNW) Wheeler, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'endE) Whitney,Raymond
Tebbit,Norman Wickenden,Keith
Temple-Morris, Peter Wilkinson,John
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Williams,D.(Montgomery)
Thompson,Donald Wolfson,Mark
Thome, Neil (llfordSouth) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thornton,Malcolm Younger, RtHonGeorge
Townsend,CyrilD.(B'heath) Tellers for the Noes:
Trippier,David Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Trotter,Neville Mr. Anthony Berry,
van Straubenzee, W. R.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on Amendments), and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


That this House notes with regret the decision made by PSA within the 1978 agreement to close the Talbot, Linwood factory as a consequence of over capacity despite investment incentives available under the Government's industrial and regional policies; welcomes the company's continuing commitment to manufacturing in Britain; and approves the policies of Her Majesty's Government designed to encourage new employment opportunities in Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom based upon the achievements of competitive industrial costs and practices.