HC Deb 12 November 1979 vol 973 cc898-9
20. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied with the capacity of British industry to produce titanium.

Mr. Michael Marshall

Yes, Sir. There are plans to replace and extend the present capacity with a new plant to be commissioned in the early 1980s.

Mr. Dalyell

Can we take it that the Government are firmly committed to a British titanium capacity? What is the time scale involved?

Mr. Marshall

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the formation of a company—Cleveland Titanium Limited—which will consist of the National Enter-price Board, Rolls-Royce and Imperial Metal Industries Ltd. The Government hope to see further private sector involvement. I have already given the early 1980s as the time scale.

Mr. Budgen

Will my hon. Friend explain to the House why it is necessary for the National Enterprise Board to get involved in this industry at all?

Mr. Marshall

This was felt to be the most convenient way, so as to move in these matters quickly. I make it plain to my hon. Friend that we seek to bring the National Enterprise Board into this, as into other matters, to get private sector involvement as soon as possible.

Dr. John Cunningham

As the market forces which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) knows and loves are apparently failing the nation in this respect, will the Minister assure us that the public enterprise involvement through the NEB will be retained and not sold off after the taxpayer has paid for this important national enterprise?

Mr. Marshall

I explained that we want the National Enterprise Board to find private sector involvement to replace its stake as soon as possible. That is part of our continuing philosophy.

Mr. Dalyell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of certain aspects of the reply, I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.