HC Deb 10 December 1986 vol 107 cc323-4
1. Mr. Favell

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met the chairman of the Ford Motor Company (UK) and what subjects were discussed.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Mr. Giles Shaw)

My right hon. Friend met the chairman of Ford of Britain and some of his colleagues on 14 October. Discussion covered a wide range of topics.

Mr. Favell

Given the distressing news last week that Austin Rover's share of the home market is now below 13 per cent., has the Department any intention of reopening negotiations with the Ford Motor Company (UK)? That would be eminently sensible from the taxpayer's point of view and would protect perhaps not one or two Dumbos in management but the rest of the employees of Austin Rover.

Mr. Shaw

I understand my hon. Friend's question, but the position remains as reported to the House on 6 February, namely, that the possibility of the sale of Austin Rover to Ford will not be pursued.

Mr. Park

Does the Minister agree that the continual picking at Austin Rover does incalculable damage to that company's future?

Mr. Shaw

I entirely agree with that observation. It is a fact that Austin Rover continues to compete against a substantial view cultivated by many people outside the House and by some hon. Members that seeks to diminish the company's prospect of succeeding.

Mr. Norris

I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Park). Those of us who greatly welcomed the statement to the House the other day about having confidence in the future of Austin Rover very much regret the continual sniping at that company, which has enough difficulties to overcome in establishing itself as a niche marketer without that sort of additional difficulty.

Mr. Shaw

I welcome my hon. Friend's observation. It is essential that all hon. Members on both sides of the House should recognise the realities of the situation.

Mr. Evans

When the Secretary of State next meets the chairman of the Ford Motor Company (UK), will he tell him that Pilkington Brothers of St. Helens is a major glass supplier to that company and that the best way of safeguarding its supplies for the future would be for the chairman to use his influence in the City of London to ensure that Pilkington remains an independent company?

Mr. Shaw

I admire the hon. Gentleman's observations, but he will understand that I cannot comment on them, other than to say that Ford motors are produced in this country with a very high United Kingdom component level.