HC Deb 05 November 1986 vol 103 cc951-2
13. Mr. John Mark Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received any representations about restoring Land Rover to the private sector.

Mr. Giles Shaw

The position has not changed since my right hon. Friend's statement on 24 April.

Mr. Taylor

Does my hon. Friend agree that, with the problems overhanging the volume car market in Britain, about which we all know, there is really no reason to leave Land Rover in the same embrace? Will my hon. Friend be speaking to Mr. Graham Day about the possibilities of offering that company to the British shareholder?

Mr. Shaw

I understand my hon. Friend's views and I witnessed his robust performance on television recently. However, my hon. Friend and I should await the corporate plan proposals that Mr. Graham Day is now preparing.

Mr. Hoyle

Would it not be better to leave Land Rover where it is, with British Leyland? Does not all this selling off and disturbance, particularly of the profit-making parts, mean that all that will be left is a loss-making rump, parts of which will either go out of business or face vast redundancies? Does the Minister not care at all?

Mr. Shaw

The hon. Gentleman must be patient. It is important to see that all parts of the Rover Group are profitable, and I hope that they will be. That would be the ideal objective, hence the massive effort being made by Mr. Day and his colleagues, not just to restructure the company, but to make a massive effort on the commercial development of the range of products that they possess. Some of the success stories within the volume car group, including the 25 per cent. increase in the Rover 200 sales compared with a year ago, show that they have been successful.

Mr. Alan Howarth

When my hon. Friend is considering questions relating to the privatisation of Land Rover, or, for that matter, of British Gas, will he bear in mind that the Japanese authorities are not permitting foreigners to apply for shares in Nippon Telegraph and Telephone when it is floated later this month? Does he agree that it is an important point of principle that there should be reciprocal openness in financial markets? Will my hon. Friend and his colleagues be willing, as circumstances may require, to invoke the reciprocity clauses of the Financial Services Bill?

Mr. Shaw

I admire my hon. Friend's ingenuity in tacking that supplementary question on to a question about Land Rover. However, I take his point that there should be a free market in investment as well as in sales.