§ 14. Mr. Canavan
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last had discussions with representatives of the bus building industry; and what subjects he discussed.
§ Mr. Butcher
My hon. Friend the Minister of State met a delegation from Leyland Bus earlier this year. Other right hon. and hon. Friends as well as officials from my Department have maintained regular contact with representatives of the industry.
§ Mr. Canavan
Is the Minister aware that before the publication of the Transport Bill there was almost no consultation with the bus building industry, and that the companies and workers in that industry are almost unanimous in their opposition to the Bill, which spells disaster for the domestic market for new buses? In view of that gross dereliction of duty by the Department of Transport, is it not about time that a Minister with responsibility for industry fought for the interests of workers in firms such as Walter Alexanders in my constituency, whose export record proves that it is capable of building the best double-decker buses in the world?
§ Mr. Butcher
As a Minister with responsibility for industry, I must also take into account the fact that, even before the current measures were mooted, there was a trend of declining production and output in the entire bus building industry. That could not have been allowed to continue. As to the impact of the legislation, the detail is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. I should tell the hon. Gentleman that we have discussed many matters with representatives of the industry, including the long-term decline in bus manufacturing and how the Government's transport proposals can arrest that decline.