§ 23. Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Minister of Technology if, with a view to guaranteeing the long-term growth and development of the British motor manufacturing industry, he will take steps to counter any major contraction of car or commercial vehicle production in Great Britain by international companies by providing the machinery for Government action to take over underused capital assets of such contracting companies 961 and thus to maintain and expand the level of employment and production.
§ Mr. Roberts
Would my right hon. Friend accept that anybody with a glimmer of sense would agree with him that international companies will not abandon their large capital assets in Britain? But does he also accept that the Government have a job to do to improve industrial relations in the industry—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—it is their job, and will continue to be—by demolishing the type of blackmail which is sometimes put forward in this direction by one or two misguided manufacturers and some Tory politicians?
§ Mr. Benn
That goes a bit beyond the original Question. The international company is here to stay and, in my opinion, will grow rapidly, not only in the motor manufacturing industry, but in many others. Somehow we must, by maintaining close contact with them, see that their work is, in general, of benefit to the United Kingdom. I have no reason to doubt that the presence of international companies here is helping exports and employment.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing
Is it not true that the industrial unrest in the motor industry, particularly in Fords, has led the American parent company to divert much of this work to German and other Continental plants, rather than undertaking it in this country?