HC Deb 06 April 1982 vol 21 cc822-3
Ql. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Prime Minister if any new proposals for additional investment funding have bee n made to Her Majesty's Government by British Leyland.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)


Mr. Canavan


The Prime Minister

The Government have not received from BL any proposals for funding in addition to those contained in the company's 1982 corporate plan. The Government announced their approval of that plan on 22 December 1981.

Mr. Dalyell

Ought not the Public Accounts Committee to have access to British Leyland's books.

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon Gentleman for having had the courtesy to write to me in detail about his problem over the Bathgate plant and for indicating to me the nature of the supplementary question that he might ask. The Government's view is this. The PAC has access to all those papers to which Government Deparments have access and for which Ministers are responsible to Parliament. It is our present view that if the PAC were able to call for all papers in respect of public enterprises in regard to commercial contracts or commercial details, that would make it difficult to make those commercial decisions. It would also be extremely difficult to get anyone to run those undertakings.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that successive Governments have insisted that British Leyland must generate internal funding to match that which it asks taxpayers to provide? Does she agree that if it fails to do so, that sum cannot be made up out of the taxpayers' pocket instead?

The Prime Minister

It is certainly true that eventually British Leyland is expected to have enough money from internal sources both for working capital and for expenditure on new capital requirements. At the moment the Government have provided £970 million of taxpayers' money to British Leyland.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

Does my right hon. Friend accept that before any further tranches of taxpayers' money go to British Leyland, it should raise what money it can by selling any parts of the group that people are prepared to buy?

The Prime Minister

There is a view that the company should continue some of its policy of selling assets in order to provide capital from internal sources.