§ Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to extend the deadline of 4 March and to provide proper information, so as to enable Lancashire Enterprises Ltd. and others to prepare properly costed bids for Leyland Vehicles as an alternative to a takeover by General Motors.This matter is obviously specific. As to its importance, four days ago the Prime Minister told the House, in answer to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition:Those who are interested in making genuine bids—the trade unions could have done the self-same thing—could have obtained the information from the Department of Trade and Industry or British Leyland."—[Official Report, 27 February 1986; Vol. 92, c. 1066.]:On the Jimmy Young show last week, the Prime Minister said of those talking of alternative bids to General Motors that they should
put up or shut up".Lancashire Enterprises Ltd., with the West Midlands enterprise board, has sought to do that—put up a bid. It is hoping to sponsor a federated management buy-out in which the major investment will be made by the finance institutions, with a stake from the enterprise boards and from the management and work force. Contrary to the pledge given by the Prime Minister four days ago, the request for information met with a point-blank refusal. Messrs Hill Samuel, on behalf of British Leyland and the Government, have refused to provide any information unless a series of onerous conditions are met. However, they have caught Lancashire Enterprises Ltd. in a catch 22 trap, for these conditions can be met only with the information which Hill Samuel is refusing to provide. In other words, the Government are creating conditions which make it impossible for any others but General Motors to get to the starting line. No prospectus has been provided.
22 As to the urgency, the deadline set by the Government expires tomorrow. It has taken General Motors at least nine months of work, and I understand that it has not yet formally submitted a bid. The National Carriers buy-out — greatly applauded by Conservative Members — of a size similar to that proposed for Land Rover took nine months to reach fruition. The Government's proposed time scale for counter-bids to that of General Motors for Leyland Vehicles is laughable. It makes a mockery of the Government's claim to be serious about alternative bids.
Yesterday, the former Conservative Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), suggested that Leyland Vehicles was to be sacrificed and sold off to General Motors as part of a private deal between the White House and Downing street. This Government's tactics in blocking other bids suggest that the right hon. Member is right. The deadline in this case can be extended only if there is an emergency debate today or tomorrow.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) 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 refusal of Her Majesty's Government to extend the deadline of 4 March and to provide proper information, so as to enable Lancashire Enterprises Ltd. and others to prepare properly costed bids for Leyland Vehicles as an alternative to a takeover by General Motors.I have listened with care to what the hon. Member has said and I fully understand the case that he has made, but the only question that I have to decide is whether this matter should take precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that I do not find that the matter meets all the criteria laid down in the standing order. I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.