HC Deb 14 May 1986 vol 97 cc698-9
10. Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a further statement on the future of British Leyland's truck and bus divisions.

Mr. Peter Morrison

A number of possible offers for Leyland Bus are being considered by the BL board and my right hon. Friend expects to receive a recommendation shortly. The position regarding Leyland Trucks is as he announced in his statement on 25 March.

Mr. Atkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of my constituents will this weekend be celebrating the 90th anniversary reunion of the company's activities? What message can I give to them about the uncertainties facing the bus and truck industry so that their future may be resolved and so that I shall be present at their celebration of 100 years?

Mr. Morrison

If I was not aware as little as five years ago, I have been made perfectly aware by my hon. Friend of the importance of Leyland truck and bus divisions to his constituency. He will appreciate that both bus and truck industries are in difficulties. Difficult decisions will have to be taken. If they are taken correctly, a viable bus and truck industry will be ensured.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the Leyland National bus plant at Workington survive?

Mr. Morrison

That depends on what recommendation the BL board makes to my right hon. Friend. I am more than aware from the hon. Member how important an industrial unit is the bus plant in Workington.

Sir Hector Monro

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind repercussions far afield from the plant at Leyland? Does he realise that an important, modern and small construction engineering plant in my constituency will be gravely at risk if the Workington plant closes? Will he do all that he can, under whatever ownership, to ensure that that plant and others continue satisfactorily into the future?

Mr. Morrison

I can assure my hon. Friend that when any decisions are made about any part of the vehicle sector, the component suppliers and the implications for their future are taken carefully into account.

Mr. Park

Does the Minister accept that the continuing uncertainty created in British Leyland by the examination and re-examination of the corporate plan must be overcome as quickly as possible? Is there not now to be another examination under the new chairman, who not only has to pass an opinion on the corporate plan, but first has to inform himself about the industry?

Mr. Morrison

On the latter point, I have every confidence in what Mr. Graham Day will do as chairman and chief executive of BL. I understand the hon. Gentleman's former point. However, he will know and appreciate that during the period of uncertainty the percentage share of the market for trucks actually went up.

Mr. Phillip Oppenheim

Is my hon. Friend aware that in 1970 the BL truck division was the largest manufacturer of trucks in the world? Is he further aware that, despite recent advances, it has since declined to become the smallest of the major truck manufacturers in Europe? Therefore, is it not becoming increasingly apparent that the opposition to the Bedford-Land Rover—Leyland merger was opportunist, anachronistic and wholly ill-informed?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend has put his finger somewhere near the button. I would call it political pot-stirring of the highest order.