HC Deb 12 June 1986 vol 99 cc519-20 4.47 pm
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

As the House is aware, when the Government feel unable to make a statement on a matter of national importance and urgency, hon. Members have the right to apply for a private notice question. This morning, British Leyland made an announcement to its work force, and it was not possible, for obvious reasons, for the Government to make a statement. I felt that it would be wrong to apply for a private notice question, although the matter is most urgent, because of the tragic circumstances that have befallen the Channon family and because the Secretary of State would have been required to answer the private notice question if you, Mr. Speaker, had granted it.

I therefore beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing an important and specific matter, that should have urgent consideration. It is specific because it relates to the affairs of Leyland Bus and important because it concerns a large manufacturing company with nearly 3,000 employees at three locations in the United Kingdom — Lowestoft, Farringdon, near Preston, and Workington.

The matter is urgent, as I have already described. At midday today, British Leyland announced that the company will no longer be known as British Leyland plc but as Rover Group plc. BL will no longer exist. The Leyland name will be retained for commercial vehicle interests only. Through its advisers, Hill Samuel, BL today informed the three parties which have expressed interest in acquiring Leyland Bus that it is inviting offers from them for the entire business on the basis of a tender procedure. We should debate the issue because we need to know whether it is a sealed bid basis.

Tenders are to be delivered to Hill Samuel by 26 June, after which time the BL board will consider them and submit a recommendation to the Government, as the majority shareholder, as soon as possible. The three prospective purchasers are Aveling Barford, the Laird Group and Leyland Bus management consortium.

It is also proposed to establish Leyland Bus as a registered limited company with its own business before any sale. That has not been known hitherto. The company aims to keep the current parts business intact. It is planned to achieve that by selling to the purchaser of Leyland Bus an interest in Leyland parts. The effect will be to leave the loss-making Leyland Bus group free-standing without any support from Leyland parts operations. It means that what remains will be ripe for asset stripping. I earnestly implore you, Mr. Speaker, to allow those matters to be raised under Standing Order No. 10.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, The statement today made by British Leyland about the future of Leyland Bus. I have listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter that he has raised as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10, and therefore I cannot submit his application to the House.