§ Mr. Biffen
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement indicating the consequences of the expenditure of £4.8 million in the British motor cycle industry; what changes have taken place in the pattern of ownership and output; and what are the future commercial prospects for the industry.
§ Mr. Chataway
The Department invested £4.872 million in Norton Villiers Triumph Ltd. (NVT) as part of the arrangements for the creation of that company by a merger of the motor cycle interests of BSA Ltd. with Norton Villiers Ltd., a fully owned subsidiary of Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd. These companies were the largest manufacturers of motor cycles in the country and as a result of the merger the motor cycle production facilities formerly owned by them are now owned and operated by NVT.
Since the merger the management of NVT has decided that motor cycle production should be concentrated at its factories at Small Heath and Wolverhampton and that its Meriden factory should be closed. The implementation of these plans has been delayed by the sit-in of workers at Meriden. I hope that negotiations currently in progress between the management of NVT and unions will lead to a solution of the dispute which will enable NVT to proceed as soon as possible with the necessary reorganisation and rationalisation of its activities.
The world market for motor cycles remains buoyant and prospects in it are good for a strong and competitive British motor cycle industry. The creation of such an industry was the objective of the Government investment.