HC Deb 01 August 1984 vol 65 cc336-7
19. Mr. Tracey

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a further statement on progress in the privatisation plan for Jaguar cars.

Mr. Norman Lamont

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced to the House on 22 May the Government's approval of the BL board's proposal to dispose of the whole of Jaguar. This disposal was subsequently approved at an extraordinary general meeting of BL shareholders. The issue has been underwritten and prospectuses have been published. Dealings in Jaguar shares will commence late next week.

Mr. Tracey

My hon. Friend and the Government are to be congratulated on this step, but will he keep his eyes on the further horizon—the denationalisation of the rest of BL—and will he perhaps state a time scale for it?

Mr. Lamont

It is the Government's policy that all the constituent parts of British Leyland should be returned to the private sector. We shall be making announcements about that in due course.

Mr. Park

Amidst all these congratulations on the privatisation of Jaguar, has the Minister considered at all the progress of Jaguar after it is privatised? I know that he cannot command any private company to invest sufficient money in research and development, but he will know that it will still require a considerable amount of investment in research if Jaguar is to continue to progress.

Mr. Lamont

Of course that is right, but that was taken into account by the Government and the board of British Leyland when they recommended that the company be sold off. The company has been extremely successful recently. It can stand on its own feet. I see no reason why the state should continue to be in the luxury car business.

Mr. Budgen

Will my hon. Friend recollect, amidst all these congratulations, that in the past many of the congratulators said that it was impossible to hive off any part of British Leyland? Will he remember that when he is considering his policies for the remainder of BL?

Mr. Lamont

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point.

Mr. Shore

We all welcome the improvement in the prospects of Jaguar, but does the Minister not understand that the terms —[Interruption.] It is not in private hands. It is in public hands. It was rescued by the public. Is the Minister not aware that the terms on which Jaguar is being offered are a disgrace and simply represent the Government's attempt to recuperate from the absolute farce of the sale of Enterprise Oil?

Since British Aerospace was oversubscribed two and a half times, since Cable and Wireless was oversubscribed some four and a half times, and since Amersham International was oversubscribed 27½ times, how many times does the Minister think Jaguar will be oversubscribed at the giveaway price being offered this week?

Mr. Lamont

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that it is quite impossible for me to comment on that at this precise moment.