§ 17. Mr. Tom Clarke
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next expects to meet Strathclyde regional council and district councils from Lanarkshire to discuss the implications for local government services of the future of the steel industry in Scotland.
§ Mr. Rifkind
I will shortly be meeting councillor McGarry of Strathclyde regional council and others concerned about the future of Ravenscraig.
§ Mr. Clarke
Does the Secretary of State accept that his replies to earlier questions about steel were widely at variance with the reply that I received on Thursday from his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who is sitting beside him now, when she made it clear that commercial considerations alone are what matter and that the golden share will not be used by the Government in defence of steel industry jobs? Does the Secretary of State accept that if he fails to persuade the Cabinet to fight for the future of the Scottish steel industry, he has a clear duty to offer his resignation?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman is, uncharacteristically, totally confused. The golden share to which he referred is an opportunity for the Government to be involved only if there is an attempt, through a proposed takeover of British Steel, to increase a holding in the company to more than 15 per cent. The golden share does not give the Government any power to involve themselves in the operational matters of British Steel. With regard to the other aspect of the hon. Gentleman's question, the Government share the hon. Gentleman's view that British Steel should keep to its commitment to continue steel making in Scotland at least until the mid-1990s.