HC Deb 01 July 1982 vol 26 cc1031-3
9. Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the latest position concerning the De Lorean sports car company.

13. Mr. Cryer

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the De Lorean Car Co. Ltd. at Dunmurry.

16. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a further statement about the receivership of the De Lorean Car Company.

Mr. Adam Butler

On 31 May 1982, production ceased at Dunmurry and almost all of the employees were made redundant. The joint receivers and managers continue in discussion with a United Kingdom consortium and with De Lorean Motor Company Inc. about the acquisition of the business and the eventual resumption of production at Dunmurry. If these discussions should fail and no other firm proposals come forward, the liquidation of the company would be inevitable. The prospects of a favourable outcome are not enhanced by the prolongation of the sit-in and picket of the company's premises conducted by former employees.

Mr. Ross

The Minister will know that it was widely reported in the press recently that Mr. De Lorean himself was intending to restart production. Does he have priority over the other interests? What is his present interest in the factory?

Mr. Butler

We understand that Mr. De Lorean is a small shareholder in the newly registered company, De Lorean Motor Company Inc., to which I referred. A letter of intent was signed to the effect that that company would purchase the shares of De Lorean Motor Cars (1982) Ltd. from the receivers, effective on or before 1 September 1982. The agreement is subject to contract and provides that the receivers might, on or before 31 July 1982, enter into an agreement with another party if, in their judgment, the other party offered greater security for the continuance of the business.

Mr. Cryer

Can the Minister assure the House that in any dealings with the receiver, his main priority will be security of jobs in Northern Ireland? In particular, will he be very guarded about any front organisation that has John Z. De Lorean behind it, and thus ensure that the assets remain in Northern Ireland to secure jobs there, rather than being removed to establish jobs in, say, Puerto Rico? Does the Minister accept that the sit-in is a desperate attempt to preserve jobs by workers who realise that for a long time in this company they have been the pawns between the Government and Mr. De Lorean?

Mr. Butler

There is no doubt that the receivers know that any proposition that they put to the Government would have to involve a continuation of production at Dunmurry.

In answer to the hon. Gentleman's second point, in my opinion the sit-in is not making a contribution. Indeed, to the extent that spare parts have not been allowed out and that maintenance has not been possible, the workers are seriously harming the prospect of a settlement. However, the receivers have assured me that they hope that the sit-in will be terminated.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Will my hon. Friend say whether, in discussions with the possible consortium, there has been any suggestion that the Government should give some financial assistance to enable the consortium to take over De Lorean?

Mr. Butler

The negotiations with the consortium are between the receivers and managers and the consortium. The Government are not a party in them. The receivers and managers are well aware of the Government's views on the matter.

Mr. Molyneaux

As many subcontractors were encouraged by the Labour Government to believe that the company was a Government-backed concern, will the Minister and the Government do everything in their power to protect the interests of those creditors, for whom the consequences could be disastrous?

Mr. Butler

I am aware of the serious position of the creditors and of what a final collapse of the company would mean. The best thing for the Government to do, and what they are doing, is to encourage the receivers and managers in their efforts to come to an agreement with the consortium or with any other party that can provide a viable future. Therein lie the best prospects for the creditors.

Mr. Hal Miller

Can my hon. Friend assure us that the discussions between the receivers and the consortium, and perhaps De Lorean, are not exclusive of efforts to find alternative uses for the plant in the event of those discussions not being successful?

Mr. Butler

Certainly, the discussions are not exclusive. The responsibilities of the receivers and managers are well defined. At present, only the United Kingdom consortium and the De Lorean interest, the new registered company, are on the scene. If other proposals are made during the comparatively short time that is left, I know that the receivers will take them seriously.