Bob Dunn – 1986 Speech on Crayford School

Below is the text of the speech made by Bob Dunn, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, in the House of Commons on 14 March 1986.

I congratulate ​ my hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) on obtaining this Adjournment debate on the future of the special support unit at Crayford school. I am glad of the opportunity to reply. My hon. Friend has clearly shown today his concern for the educational welfare of the children of his constituents, and this is by no means the first time he has made his interest in the issues known to me. The active part he played in representing his constituents’ interests in the matter of Crayford school has been noteworthy, and we shall consider carefully the issues he has raised.

As my hon. Friend has observed, Bexley local education authority has proposed the closure of Crayford school and those proposals are currently before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his decision. Because of the quasi-judicial nature of my hon. Friend’s role in such cases, I am unable to comment on the closure issue beyond saying that my right hon. Friend will take into account all relevant facts in reaching his decision, which he hopes to announce shortly. My hon. Friend will therefore understand that it would be wrong for me to go further than that today.

As my hon. Friend has pointed out, Crayford school currently has attached to it two units for pupils with special educational needs. One is for hearing-impaired children and the other is a support group for pupils with emotional and associated learning difficulties. Both units are generally acknowledged to be doing excellent work.

Under the authority’s proposals, the unit for hearing-impaired children would transfer to Bexleyheath school as from September this year, along with other pupils from Crayford school. The authority proposes that the support unit at Crayford should continue to function there during the transitional period in which the buildings of Crayford school would remain in use as an annex to Bexleyheath school. This period would end in 1988, and the authority proposes at that time to transfer the pupils attached to the support unit to suitable alternative provision. These transfers would, I gather, be carried out in consultation with the parents. It is the authority’s hope that the majority of these pupils will remain in the company of their peer groups throughout their school careers. I understand also that the LEA has plans to establish more support groups of this kind with a view eventually to providing four such groups spread throughout the borough.

I should have liked to raise a number of other points, but I shall undertake to write to my hon. Friend stating clearly the legal position and the rights and responsibilities that attach to such proposals with regard to his constituents.
I fully understand my hon. Friend’s concern and that of his constituents for the future welfare of the children who are receiving such valuable help from the special support group. I recognise that all proposals to alter the local pattern of education provision do, regrettably, have a disruptive effect on all those concerned. I further recognise that for Crayford school this period of uncertainty and disruption has been rather a long one.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford for the trouble that he has taken to present the facts most clearly in this short debate. We undertake to give careful consideration to the points that have been made today and in the past before a decision is reached.

David Evennett – 1986 Speech on Crayford School

Below is the text of the speech made by David Evennett, the then Conservative MP for Erith and Crayford, in the House of Commons on 14 March 1986.

I am grateful for this opportunity to discuss the future of the special support unit at Crayford school.

The past year has been extremely difficult in education. All the bad news has hit the headlines and the recent teachers’ dispute has caused problems for schools, parents and, most important of all, children. We must be concerned primarily with children, as education is about their future, their training for life and their ability to cope with the world of tomorrow. It is intended to help them to play their full part in society as decent citizens.

The Government have achieved much in education and are attempting much more. They have my full support. Without doubt, considerable progress has been made and I am pleased to be able to report a real success in education today—the special support unit at Crayford school. The school is in the southern part of my constituency, in the London borough of Bexley, which is the local education authority. It is a small school with about 560 pupils on its roll, all of whom are accommodated on one site. The school has had several difficulties recently, but they have been overcome by the combined efforts of the acting head, Miss Woollett, dedicated staff and a supportive parents association.

The school is an integral part of the local community and commands the wide respect of local citizens. With that local backing, the support of the governors and of the local education authority, the staff, who are extremely talented and highly motivated, have become pioneers in special education, with the establishment of a special unit. They are to be congratulated, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister agrees.

The Education Act 1981 paved the way for the integration, as far as is reasonable and practicable, of children with special educational needs and children without such needs. Opening the Second Reading debate on the Education Bill on 2 February 1981, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle), who was then the Secretary of State for Education and Science, said:

“We have constantly stressed that we wish to see the largest possible number of children with special needs educated in ordinary schools … However, our aim is not simply integration for its own sake. It is the provision of appropriate education for individuals. For many children I believe that this can and should be done in ordinary schools.” —[Official Report, 2 February 1981; Vol. 998, c. 30.]

Long before the 1981 Act, Crayford school possessed a special unit for children with impaired hearing to ease their path into mainstream classes.

Today, there are three special units at the school—the unit for hearing-impaired pupils, the support group and the special needs centre. The special needs centre provides an in-school service, while the other two units are boroughwide.

The unit for hearing-impaired pupils was established in 1972 as a resource for secondary age pupils from all parts of the Bexley local education authority area. The facilities cover the range of hearing impairment from moderate to profound hearing loss. Since its formation, the unit has endeavoured to achieve the maximum integration for each pupil in social and academic areas, and many pupils spend ​ almost all their time in mainstream classes. The unit has two full-time members of staff and 13 pupils, although it can cater for a maximum of 16 pupils. Each child in the unit has an individually tuned radio hearing aid which picks up and amplifies the teacher’s voice via a radio microphone which the teacher wears around his neck. During my visits to the school I have seen the equipment in use; it was interesting to note the ease with which all members of staff wear the microphones and the fact that the system operates without comment from the other children.

At Crayford school, the use of radio equipment is part of everyday life. To children with hearing loss, school and much else in the world often seems hostile. In addition, their need for some special education provision often means that the school which they attend is not in the immediate area in which they live. For those reasons, it is important that they feel comfortable at school and that they are part of the school. The attitude of the staff and pupils at Crayford school ensures that the pupils in the unit for the hearing-impaired are not set apart, but belong to the school community in the widest sense.

The other boroughwide facility at the school is the support group, which was established in September 1984 to cater for secondary school pupils who are experiencing social, emotional and behavioural problems, and who have been statemented under the Education Act 1981. That unit is staffed by two full-time teachers and can deal with up to 10 pupils. The unit aims for the maximum social and academic integration and attempts to return all pupils to mainstream classes within a year. Pupils in the unit follow the school curriculum. Rules must be obeyed and good behaviour is rewarded. Incentives are also offered to encourage pupils to want to return to mainstream classes. Here, encouragement is the key.

The third unit at Crayford school is the special needs centre, which is a school-based facility for pupils with learning difficulties. One full-time member of staff co-ordinates the work of the centre and specialist subject teachers provide individual support in mainstream lessons.

Teachers have received much bad publicity of late, a great deal of which is completely undeserved. My hon. Friend the Minister will agree that most teachers are dedicated and hard-working professionals. At Crayford school, that is the case in the special unit and in the school in general. I have received many letters from parents praising the school, and especially the staff. The results from the children speak for themselves.

The heads of the three units all have the status of heads of department. From the point of view of sensible organisation, the three units have been placed together to allow the all-important co-operation between teachers which is so evident in the school. Teachers from the special units teach some mainstream classes, and last year the interchange was widened by a rearrangement of the school timetable to allow some mainstream teachers to take groups of special needs children for some subjects, such as physical education and art.

The staff at Crayford school have been willing to be pioneers and to look to the future. Those teaching mainstream classes have been happy and willing to have other members of staff in their classes to give additional help to children from those units. Extra resources have also been available to class teachers and, in addition, the presence of a special unit teacher in the classroom has often been of benefit to the other non-unit pupils.

In any debate on education, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister will agree, the children are of paramount importance. We must never overlook the welfare or understate the needs of children. At Crayford school, the pupils are all-important, and in my visits to the school I have been impressed by their behaviour and attitudes. I have been particularly impressed by the attitude of the staff and other pupils towards the children in the special units and can say without fear of contradiction that the pupils in those units are full members of the school in every sense. It is essential for the success of the units that the pupils are made to feel so. They wear school uniform; they register with the rest of their form each morning; they attend morning assembly. They play a full and active part in the life of the school, and that is important to their integration or reintegration into the main stream.

Teachers, parents and pupils have all commented that the size of the school is one of the main reasons why the special units have been integrated so successfully. I am a product of a good grammar school; I was fortunate to attend Buckhurst Hill county high school for boys, which had a school roll of around 600. The head and senior staff knew all the boys by sight, and the vast majority by name. Such a size of school was friendly and manageable, and allowed the individual child to feel part of the school community. That is how I believe the children of Crayford school feel.

I regret the trend in the 1970s towards larger schools with rolls of 1,500 or more. In such institutions, despite great efforts, I am sure, by the head, staff and pupils, the community spirit is often lost. Individuals feel lost and the head and deputy heads have difficulty knowing their pupils. I do not wish to be partisan, but I feel that that is the heritage of the Social Democrat-led Labour Government of the 1970s, who allowed education to decline so much. I would welcome a trend away from larger schools towards smaller schools, especially when, as in this debate, we are talking about special needs provision.

Children with special needs already have difficulties not experienced by others, and integrating them effectively in vast and impersonal schools is not possible or practical. They tend to be isolated in special units, which is as unfair as the old separate special schools. Not only is it unfair, but it is unwise, and harmful to their educational and personal development.

The present size of Crayford school enables pupils with special needs to be effectively monitored and integrated for the majority of their time in school—in most cases, for over 70 per cent. of the school day. The provision of the support units is almost unique, as there are few similar units in the country. A recent report in The Times Educational Supplement said:

“few schools can yet have had the same experience or success at integrating children with special needs as Crayford, an 11–16 school in the outer London Borough of Bexley”.

Integrating special needs pupils is not simply about putting them into an ordinary school. The National Foundation for Educational Research report, entitled “Educating Pupils with Special Needs in the Ordinary School”, published in 1981, set out the criteria that it believed would ensure successful integration. They are, first, the understanding and commitment of the head teacher; secondly, the prior existence of some sort of special facility; thirdly, mainstream staff with positive attitudes and the ability to deal with special needs pupils; ​ fourthly, close liaison with external agencies, such as social services; fifthly, suitable accommodation for full integration to foster the sense of belonging; and, sixthly, the integration of both mainstream and special unit teaching staff.

Not only are those criteria met by Crayford school; it could almost be the model upon which the criteria are based. The attitude of all at Crayford school is one of care, compassion, co-operation and integration. Such rapport has been built up over the past few years and cannot be transported elsewhere easily or built up overnight.

I have to report that the future of the special unit at Crayford school is in jeopardy. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is aware, Crayford school is currently under threat of closure. The proposals of the local education authority to cease to maintain Crayford school are now with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science for his consideration.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has recently met a delegation from the school in his ministerial capacity. I realise that, as he is replying today in that same capacity, he is unable to comment on the closure proposals at this stage. However, I hope that he will take my comments on board and convey them to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

I feel that I must make clear my total opposition to the closure of Crayford school. I appreciate that the school rolls are falling and that, as a consequence, education authorities must look for savings, but I believe that savings can be achieved in alternative ways which will be more satisfactory on educational grounds.

Crayford school is part of the local community. It is the only local secondary school for the children in Crayford and its closure would mean long journeys to schools outside the area for the vast majority of mainstream local children. In addition, the rolls in that area are not falling as rapidly as in other parts of the borough; indeed, a great deal of house building is taking place in the area which will ultimately place a greater demand on the local schools.

The closure of the only local secondary school would be a bitter blow to the community, not only from the practical aspects which I have mentioned, such as the travelling which would be involved for local children to get to school, but from the social aspect. Children travelling to schools away from the area in which they live tend to have two groups of friends—those at school and those near home. That fact, together with the sensible attitude of parents that children who have to travel to school outside their local area may often have to go straight home after school in winter, weakens the community spirit of the school. We heard a debate earlier this afternoon on neighbourhood watch and crime rates in this country. In any event, the closure of Crayford school would be a severe blow.

The closure has a wider impact. It affects not just local children but those in the special units. For them, the impact on the local community is not so important because many of those children have to travel, regrettable though that may be. But the effect of closure on their education is vital. The closure proposals include a statement that the unit for the hearing-impaired will transfer to Bexleyheath school. That school has a public intake of 10 forms of entry and a capacity of over 1,800 pupils. That is also where it is envisaged that a large percentage of Crayford school ​ pupils would go. The support group would be transferred to alternative suitable provision in consultation with parents.

As I have already said, the effectiveness of the special unit at Crayford school is a result of their total integration with the rest of the school. The units are part of the school and cannot be looked at in isolation. The pupils are in the mainstream classes for the bulk of their time in school, which means that transferring the units elsewhere, even if kept together, would not be enough. It is the positive contribution that mainstream staff make at Crayford school which makes the units so successful. I do not believe that that success will continue if the special units are moved elsewhere.

For the staff of the unit to build up the same relationship with a new group of mainstream staff would take time, during which the education of those in the units would undoubtedly suffer. The position will be even more difficult if the units are moved from a close-knit school of less than 600 pupils to a vast school of over 1,800.

For the children in the unit for the hearing-impaired and the support group, closure, and the disruption it would cause, would place their educational prospects seriously at risk. For many, yet another move of school would be necessary, and for some the third or fourth move in their secondary education. Pupils with hearing impairment would undoubtedly suffer the most.

In view of the time, I realise that I cannot say all that I would like to say about the school and the units in this short debate. I must draw my comments to a close. I hope that my hon. Friend and neighbour, the Under-Secretary, appreciates, after my few brief words, the tremendous work that has been done, and is being done, by the special units at Crayford school and their importance to the children with special educational needs. All that good work is under threat. The future of the units is bleak, because they are under sentence of death under the borough’s proposals. So much good work has been done and so much has been achieved, yet the future is so uncertain.

Without doubt, the subject of this debate is a success story and all involved in this important work must be complimented. What will happen if Crayford school closes and the units are disbanded or moved elsewhere? How will the children fare in a much larger and perhaps less friendly environment? The safeguarding of the future of the special units is another reason why Crayford school should be retained.

Crayford school is an outstanding example of good practice with respect to special needs integration, with special needs pupils fully provided for while integrated as far as possible into mainstream classes. To lose the units, which are so effective, would be educationally detrimental to many pupils. I hope that these points will be taken into consideration by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State when he looks at the proposals for Crayford school. I urge him to give full consideration to the educational arguments and hear my plea for a future for Crayford school and its special units, which are so important, effective and valuable.

Gary Waller – 1986 Speech on Transport in West Yorkshire

Below is the text of the speech made by Gary Waller, the then Conservative MP for Keighley, in the House of Commons on 13 March 1986.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State may not be as glad as I am to be here at 4 o’clock in the norning. Nevertheless, we much appreciate the contribution he makes in the office that he fills. I am also pleased that the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) is here. He demonstrates every day, in Committee and when he contributes to transport debates, that it is possible to adopt an aggressive yet light-hearted tone across the Dispatch Boxes. We welcome the fact that he has stayed up until this late hour to join in this important debate about transport in west Yorkshire.

I think that it is fair to say that, among the factors which encourage the development of industry and commerce in particular areas, there is good evidence that transport links figure very near the top. I want to deal, in particular, with the western part of the county of west Yorkshire, which not only suffers from higher than average unemployment but has relatively poor road and rail communications. In the eastern part of west Yorkshire, Leeds and Wakefield have first-class rail links to London by the east coast main line and also first-class road links by the M1 motorway to the south of the country. However, places such as Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield come some way behind.

Leeds has attracted many new jobs in commerce and the services sector, but Bradford and its environs are still trying to recover from the shake-out in textile jobs which has taken place under successive Governments over many years and has reached a plateau only during the past 12 months or so. My constituency is defying the doom and gloom merchants and many firms are now more optimistic, although it remains to be seen whether that will turn into real jobs. Keighley is particularly poorly served by transport. Whether those jobs will come depends a great deal on the realisation of our transport needs.

Among the most important developments is the electrification of the east coast main line. Its completion to Doncaster and Leeds is eagerly awaited by the many people who use the train regularly, including me, and by those who suffer from the delays caused by the many failures of the current diesel units. The fact that British Rail received substantial compensation from the manufacturer is little comfort to those who are inconvenienced. The Government made the right decision in giving the go-ahead for this important and significant scheme. The increased reliability which the new Electra locomotives will bring is eagerly awaited also.

We are pleased that my hon. Friend the Minister will visit Bradford soon. Many people in Bradford are naturally unhappy about the link between the city and the rest of the inter-city network, especially the route between Bradford and Leeds. I understand that the existing dated rolling stock which is operated by the passenger transport executive is being replaced by the new Pacer train. That development is badly needed.

Many people in Bradford regard electrification of the route between Leeds and Bradford as essential to Bradford’s regeneration. I must admit that, unlike some hon. Members, I do not believe that this argument necessarily stands up to rigorous examination. Decisions made by the great railway builders of the last century ​ inevitably cause the journey time from Wakefield to Bradford to be long, especially if the train has to stop at Leeds on the way. British Rail claims that a stop at Leeds between Wakefield and Bradford has been forced on it by commercial considerations. It has already ceased to run trains via the Wortley curve directly to Bradford.

The time factor has in the past deterred passengers from travelling through to Bradford by train even when no change of train was required during off-peak periods. This factor will continue to apply whether or not electrification comes.

At the end of the day, whether a service is viable depends not on electrification but on whether sufficient passengers use it. I know that there is criticism of British Rail for making the service so unattractive that passengers are driven away, but I do not think that it is all the fault of British Rail that the number of passengers using the inter-city service during off-peak periods declined to such a low level that services were discontinued.

There has never been any suggestion that, if electrification were continued through from Leeds to Bradford, British Rail would again start running through trains during off-peak periods. It is hard to see what advantage electrification can bring to make the service more attractive. On that basis, it is reasonable to assume that the electrified inter-city services would continue through to Bradford only during peak periods. British Rail has already said that it intends to continue inter-city services to Bradford during peak periods following electrification of the east coast main line, with a change of traction at Leeds during the time currently allowed for the stop there.

Therefore, the only advantage that I can see that electrification would provide is a kind of guarantee that British Rail would be more likely—it is certainly not a cast-iron guarantee—to fulfil its pledge to continue inter-city services to Bradford than it would if a change of traction were necessary.

I believe that better ways can be found of spending the several millions of pounds—various figures, ranging from £5 million to £10 million, have been cited—that such a guarantee would cost. The question of the Wortley curve is separate and not directly related to electrification. It is connected with the question whether it is commercially viable to run trains through to Bradford which do not call at Leeds. It looks as if the courts will have to decide whether British Rail was justified in closing that stretch of line to passengers without submitting the issue to a Transport Users Consultative Committee inquiry and final decision by the Secretary of State.

We live in an age of convenience, but I do not understand how electrification can make things more convenient unless one were willing not only to spend the £4 million, £5 million or £10 million needed to electrify the link, but also to maintain a continuing subsidy each year for uneconomic trains.

Some Bradfordians have admitted that electrification would not make economic sense but would have a psychological effect. British Rail is required to achieve a 5 per cent. return on its inter-city services by 1988. I am not sure where a subsidy would come from. Even if Bradford council was initially willing for the ratepayers to meet the cost, it could hardly give a guarantee to continue doing that indefinitely. No doubt one would come to a different conclusion if it seemed that electrification could bring any genuine benefits to Bradford. I find it difficult to argue that there should be any exception from the ​ requirement that the inter-city service should be ineligible for public service obligation grant from April 1988, bearing in mind that this additional investment would incur additional costs if BR were to try to justify it by running through trains outside peak periods.

I should like to make some relatively brief comments about local rail lines as these are not the responsibility of BR or of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Transport but of the local PTE. The reason for that is not because they are unimportant; indeed, the contrary is the case.

Many commuters, shoppers, school pupils and tourists depend on the local rail lines between the major conurbations of Leeds and Bradford and the towns of Shipley, Bingley, Keighley and Skipton in Airedale and the smaller communities on the way to Ilkley in Wharfedale. In recent months there have been many complaints about the quality of the service. I would like to pay a tribute to the Wharfedale rail users group whose professionalism has impressed the professionals and whose suggestions have resulted in the improved scheduling of trains. The Ilkley line is popular with travellers but its viability is not enhanced by the way that section 20 agreements between the PTE and BR require the whole of the track costs to be borne by the former because the line is not part of the BR network.

The details of section 20 agreements are being re-examined and I hope that some benefits will result. In the meantime, I believe that the PTE should operate its fare structure on a more commercial basis. The local railway provides a fast alternative to the congested roads for which many people would willingly pay a realistic fare if that helped to retain the service. People need the service to be reliable and seats to be available. Lately, both timing and the number of coaches available have fallen well below acceptable levels. I hope that things will improve in future.

I have some good news for my hon. Friend the Minister of State about the likely effects of the Transport Bill for which he was responsible. I do not know whether my hon. Friend has seen a letter from County Councillor John Tweddle, who is the Conservative spokesman on transport on the county council. In the letter Mr. Tweddle refers to

“The latest information on the charges which the Transport Act 1985 is bringing about to bus services in West Yorkshire.”

He states:

“The west Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive have just informed Councillors that commercial network mileage has been increased from 55 per cent. previously assessed to 75 per cent. of the current mileage. This improvement is to be achieved as a result of better service planning, faster journey times and improved staff productivity following the new cooperation from the Trade Unions. National Bus Company Subsidiaries operating in west Yorkshire, have not yet told of the extent of the commercial network that they intend to register”.

Nevertheless, the sort of improvement in the commercial network mileage, together with the cost savings on the rest of the network due to tendering, is obviously going to save passengers and ratepayers a substantial amount in the future.

Mr. Tweddle concludes his letter by writing:

“The claim of the white paper and in debate now looks set to be achieved scorning the mis-information and scare-mongering of opponents to the Transport Bill.”

That is encouraging news indeed.

Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)

Did the hon. Gentleman say that the spokesman of the Conservative group was County Councillor Tweddle, or was that the content of the letter from which he quoted?

Mr. Waller

County Councillor Tweddle is a man for whom I have the highest regard. I always found what he has to say about transport, in which he is a specialist, of extremely high quality. The hon. Gentleman will probably see more of Mr. Tweddle in future. He has already been a parliamentary candidate, and is undoubtedly destined for even higher things than the outgoing metropolitan county council.

One of the more obvious benefits of the abolition of the metropolitan county councils was the opportunity it gave the districts to take responsibility for highways. There is a good case for some services still to be provided on a countywide basis, for example research, and work on major strategic traffic management schemes. Nevertheless, I am surprised that some district councils in west Yorkshire are effectively throwing away the opportunities that they were handed by reorganisation by continuing to join together on a countywide basis to operate highway functions voluntarily.

I am glad that Bradford has opted out of that retrograde scheme, and I believe that it will benefit in future by so doing. If the old county borough was capable of running its highways, the much larger metropolitan district with a population as large as some counties should certainly be able to do so effectively.

One of the most important trunk road schemes in the offing is the Kirkhamgate-Dishforth scheme. The need for a strategic link between the M1 and M62 south of Leeds, and north Yorkshire and the north-east remains.

Much national and local traffic must use a variety of roads which are unsuited to the flows that they must carry. There was a good case for a route to the west of Leeds which would have benefited Bradford and provided an alternative to the dangerous route north from those cities to Harrogate and Ripon. But we did not get the cake with the icing, and because the inspector did not recommend the construction of the entirely new section south and east of Leeds either, we have got only half of the alternative rather plain cake.

Now new alternatives are to be examined, and that process should be carried out quickly. The problem exists today and we cannot wait many more years for it to be properly resolved, even if the necessary improvements on the A1 are to go ahead.

I welcome the fact that active consideration is being given to the construction of an eight or nine mile link between the M1 near Wakefield, possibly between junctions 39 and 40, and the M62 at junction 25 near Brighouse. I have been pressing for that scheme for many years. Two or three years ago I was told by officials in the Department that it was a non-starter, but I am pleased that it is now considered that it may pay its way.

The scheme would bring considerable benefits to the western districts of west Yorkshire. It would provide a faster, more convenient route between the M1 and Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford, would cut several miles off the journey between the M1 and the M62 to the west, and would relieve the A638 through Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton—towns which I had the honour to represent before the last general election but which I no ​ longer represent. The traffic in those towns was considered sufficiently bad to merit the construction of relief roads which have now been deleted.

This new route would also relieve the A644 through Mirfield and traffic would be able to use an alternative to the unsuitable, and in parts narrow, A637. It would enable the largest proportion of traffic linking between the M62 and M606 at the Chain Bar roundabout to do so without having to negotiate that roundabout—it is about half a mile around that large circuit. The Calder Valley link would have environmental, safety and economic benefits which would justify its early approval and construction. I hope the results of the analysis will prove favourable.

For my constituents the Airedale route is of great significance. It is a vital route for the future prosperity of the Aire valley towns, especially Keighley. When the route is complete it will mean that there will be a fast link between Keighley and the motorway network. At present in peak times it can easily take an hour to cover 15 miles. It is possible to get from south Bradford to Manchester more quickly than it is possible to reach the north-western parts of the district. That route, which has been on the stocks not just for years but decades, is essential.

The final obstacles to the construction of the Kildwick to Beechcliffe section—the most westerly part of the route—have now been cleared and I hope that construction will start this summer. There has been a recent announcement about the Victoria Park-Keighley-Crossflats section. That will mean the loss of about 13 per cent. of the Victoria Park at Keighley, but I do not think, as some fear, that the annual gala and show at Keighley, which are important events for the town, will be threatened too much.

The Crossflatts-to-Cottingley Bar section extending to the east of Bingley will go ahead eventually. There is a question about what will happen between Cottingley Bar and the Shipley eastern bypass. This will link with the Bradford central spine road and the motorway system. I have serious doubts about the consultative process which was carried out some time ago. I do not think that adequate opportunity was given for the people living outside the immediate area to express their views as there would have been under a statutory inquiry. I carried out a survey of Keighley firms which clearly showed that the overwhelming majority regarded the route as important and thought that it was essential that there should be a new route skirting Saltaire and Shipley. Those questioned did not think that any alternative would prevent traffic jams.

An alternative to the new route would probably rely on traffic management and perhaps on one or two short new sections, but all this would only create an almighty snarl-up which would strangle Saltaire—an outcome which those who wish to protect Saltaire fear. The anticipated traffic figures which I have been given by the Department of Transport do not add up. Even an incomplete Airedale route would draw traffic away from routes such as the A629-A644 through Denholme and Queensbury and the B6144 across the moors. I feel that there could be a botch-up and I am waiting anxiously for the announcement, due this summer, of the outcome of inquiries into alternatives. I note that I am supported in my view by Bradford council and the West Yorkshire metropolitan council. It is a sensitive matter.

Among the villages which have waited long—I will not say patiently—for a bypass, Addingham, on the borders of my constituency, features prominently. At long ​ last, the detailed route has been announced. I believe it has the support of the overwhelming majority of the village residents who wish to see the bypass constructed as soon as possible.

Obviously, the objectors have every right to have their say, but I hope that their number will be few and that the statutory procedures will be carried through as speedily as possible. The road winds through the village in an attractive way that is suited more to the horse and cart than to today’s juggernaut. The completion of the bypass, which will be partly hidden in a cutting will bring blessed relief to the villagers, who often have to jump for their lives, and have been kept awake at night by the rumble of heavy traffic.

The Leeds-Bradford airport has a catchment area twice the size of that for Newcastle or the east midlands, but has only about half the throughput of those two airports. It has great potential. For instance, it could carry a great deal of postal business, some of which used to be diverted through Speke airport at Liverpool. Last year, the operational income of Leeds-Bradford airport increased by 24 per cent., mainly as a result of increased business.

There was a 10 per cent. increase in air freight, and a 14 per cent. increase in passenger trade. However, it has had to turn away much business in the past two years because of the ban on take-offs and landings after 10 pm. The question whether there should be take-offs and landings after that time is a sensitive issue, and I do not want to come down on one side or the other, but it is fair to investigate the matter, bearing in mind that most of the present generation of quiet aircraft were not in existence when the public inquiry took place in 1979.

I hope that I shall be forgiven for reverting briefly to the subject of rail. This is not a part of the British Rail or PTE network, but the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. I take a particular pride in that scheme, as did my predecessor as Member for Keighley, Mr. Bob Cryer. The railway is run in a very professional way, although it depends on volunteers and fare-paying passengers, and the subscriptions of members of the preservation society among whom I am proud to be counted. The figures that have just reached me show that in 1985, 148,500 miles were covered by locomotives on the railway, a large proportion of them under steam. Not only do people come from far and wide to work on the railway, or travel on it as tourists, but some use it as a commuter service from Oxenhope and the famous village of Howarth down into Keighley and on into Bradford and Leeds. The railway is more expensive to run than an ordinary railway because it is a steam railway. Over £40,000 per annum has to be spent on coal alone.

I am glad that in the past couple of days, a pie-in-the-sky scheme to build a tramway and transport museum on the other side of Bradford seems to have run into the buffers. It was an over-ambitious scheme on which the West Yorkshire metropolitan council has already spent some money. It was never a realistic scheme, and my view is that it would have confronted head-on the voluntary efforts of people on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. I had appealed for somebody to say no to the scheme, which would have eaten up a great deal of ratepayers’ money, when they are already suffering from increased rates.

I have taken my hon. Friend the Minister and the many other hon. Members in the House at this time on a tour of the transport facilities in at least part of the county of west ​ Yorkshire. I hope that I have shown that transport is vital to the future of the county. During the next few years, it will be even more vital for the system to improve.

Roger King – 1986 Speech on British Leyland

Below is the text of the speech made by Roger King, the then Conservative MP for Birmingham Northfield, in the House of Commons on 13 March 1986.

Many of the headlines in recent weeks have been about the problems facing the British Leyland operation in Britain and the allied factories and businesses which predominate throughout the country. My purpose tonight is to raise points that are worthy of close consideration because they affect the future prospects of that group of companies.

I wish, first, to examine the BL board, the body which has been charged with overseeing the development of a British-owned motor industry which fell on hard times because of many and varied problems in the late 1950s, through the 1960s and into the 1970s. Those problems stemmed from poor management control, hasty reorganisation, poor industrial relations and a failure to invest in the right product line. Above all, although its products were technically reasonable, they left a lot to be desired in terms of quality. The constant problem of under-investment left us prey to the world car industry, especially the Japanese, and the western European industry developed its industry during the same time with the aid of investment and new factories after the war.

The BL board has tended to remain somewhat distant from the day-to-day operations of its subsidiaries. It has allowed sector managers to get on with what they know best—running a business. We understand that there is to be a change in organisation. It was recently announced that Mr. Graham Day of British Shipbuilders will take over what may be left of BL in the middle of this year. Those of us who have been privileged to meet some of the BL executives, especially Mr. Ray Horrocks, question the wisdom of changing the leadership of the board at such a difficult time. Mr. Horrocks has been primarily responsible for the development of the car side of the business.

Under his directorship, Jaguar has been successfully privatised and Austin Rover has been developed from chronic financial difficulty, poor product range and awful industrial relations to acceptable financial efficiency, exemplary productivity and a very good product range.

In 1980 the car side turned in a £250 million loss. In the first six months of 1985 a small profit of some £600,000 was registered. It is too early to get information for the whole year, but it seems that the company has done a great deal better than hitherto. The present problem is a growing lack of confidence in development of the business. Rumours about a tie-up with Ford or any other company has had a dramatic effect on the company’s status in the market. The car business relies on customer confidence throughout the world. Although Austin Rover has only 4 per cent. of the European market, it is able to break even, whereas Renault, with two and a half times Austin Rover’s market share, turns in a loss of about £1 billion a year.

The market has been improved step by step by improving customer confidence in the company’s ability to supply the right vehicles of the right quality when they are wanted. That market has been created step by step as a result of improving customer confidence in the business by supplying the right sort of vehicles, at the right quality when they are wanted by the customer. The relationship between manufacturer and customer has been built up ​ painstakingly over the years, gaining the sort of confidence necessary to develop the market for that range of car products.

It does not take much to reduce that confidence, with a noticeable effect on the market. Commentators would not dispute the fact that since the beginning of talks about a possible Austin Rover group sell-off to Ford, or to any other company, its market share in this country dropped by about 2 per cent. in the first two months of this year. The winter months are critical for the business, and sales are hard to get. The compounded problem of lack of confidence in the business has a knock-on effect. The problems do not stem simply from reaction in the home or indeed the European market. There have been problems further overseas.

Mr. John Smith (Monklands, East)

Why does the hon. Gentleman not come straight out with it and say that the major problem facing the Austin Rover group is the Government’s policy to encourage discussions with Ford? Why does he not have the courage to criticise the Government for what they are doing to Austin Rover?

Mr. King

I do not know whether I am grateful for that intervention. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman waits for a few moments, and I shall have some constructive comments to make on that issue.

The problems of Austin Rover in moving into profitability stem from its lack of across-the-range models. It is strong in the small and medium-car sector, but not in the big executive cars, which in car parlance mean big profits.

The forthcoming development with Honda of Japan of the Rover 800 series should go a long way to improve the market position and profitability of the business, nowhere more so than in the United States. There are great hopes for a high level of product acceptability. Customer acceptance at car clinics has been almost uniquely high in relation to the product on offer. It is clear that the Americans, based primarily on their knowledge of Jaguar and their growing acceptance of that company’s products, are ready to buy a British executive-type car and willing to pay a premium price for it.

The structure set up there by the president of Austin Rover America, Mr. Raymond Ketchledge, is such that sales of many cars should be obtained shortly. I understand that the cars that will be available for the United States will be only 50 per cent. of what the American president of the company said he could sell and would want. The primary concern of manufacturers is to ensure that all the cars that go to the United States, although not the number required, are fit for sale in that market, and of the high quality which that market rightly demands. I am certain that the factories can produce them.

All this solid, good work will improve the fortunes of the company. There is no doubt that American dealers are increasingly concerned, after rejecting Ford or General Motors dealerships, or any sort of dealership, because they do not want that particular product, that they might be dealing with a company partly owned by Ford or some other multinational, which they would find highly unacceptable. Some of the new dealers in America are hesitant to sign on the dotted line and draw up an agreement with Austin Rover until they are satisfied beyond all shadow of doubt that they are dealing with Austin Rover and not a derivative of a multinational.

Unfortunately, the rumours continue. Although we understand that no talks are envisaged with Ford, this week’s Autocar has a headline in its business section, “Ford ready to reopen Austin Rover negotiations.” Bob Lutz, the chairman of Ford Europe, said that his company was still interested in owning the company and was keen to continue negotiations. Mr. Lutz is clever, because he has decided that all he must do is to say that he is interested in purchasing part or all of Austin Rover and he can suddenly knock 2 per cent. off its home market share. He can shake customer confidence in Europe and the rest of the world as a result. It is hardly coincidental that Ford seems to be doing a little better in the market after its recent outbursts about being interested in getting its hands on Austin Rover.

We must have a clear understanding of the ownership of the business and whether it will be sold to or merged with another company. For the sake of the market place, sales and jobs, such rumours must not be allowed to continue. In the midlands we look with growing horror at the hesitancy and lack of confidence of the company. We hope that, at least in the medium term, the company will be allowed to develop as it is now, seeking to collaborate with overseas manufacturers, as it is doing with Honda, Volkswagen and Peugeot, to continue producing products which are increasingly accepted, not just in the United Kingdom, but in Europe and the rest of the world.

Production at the Austin Rover plants is increasing. In 1985 about 476,000 cars and car-van derivatives were produced. Although most commentators would say that that is below the level at which the company would generate enough income finance investment, it is getting close to that level. This year, two major events should help the company to achieve production of about 550,000 units. I have already mentioned the introduction of the Rover 800 series. The other event is the joint venture with Honda to produce the Honda Ballade car on the same assembly lines at Longbridge in my constituency as the Rover 200 series. The production figures for that model are modest, but an additional 10,000 cars a year would be extremely useful, bearing in mind the fact that one need only produce them, put Honda badges on the front and let Honda sell them in the European market. Gradually, production will exceed the all-important barrier of 500,000. I hope that it will continue to increase and improve the viability of the business.

Harold Musgrove and his team have worked extremely hard. Indeed, when the story of Austin Rover is written, it will include accounts of sacrifices by employees. I have heard that employees’ marriages have gone adrift as a result of the work that people have done to turn the business round. When that account is written, it will be considered a success story. Of course the Government invested a large sum in the business, but it is equally true that they receive a great deal in return through income tax paid by the workers at Austin Rover and components suppliers and through company taxation.

A primary tenet of Conservative thinking is that one must speculate to accumulate. The time is rapidly approaching when Austin Rover will be able to accumulate the income necessary to provide for new models, and for the new investment which is essential for its continued well being. Again, this would not necessarily be done by Austin Rover on its own, because that is not the way in which a car company of the standing and size of Austin Rover would develop today. It would be done in ​ conjunction with other operators and manufacturers throughout the world, buying the best of the bits from elsewhere, producing them perhaps under licence here in its own factories, collaborating with other manufacturers in the market place, sharing its manufacturing facilities, but selling its cars through individual sales outlets.

This is what Austin Rover will do with its Rover 800 in Australia, where it will be produced on Honda’s assembly lines, and the Honda Ballade and the Legend, Honda’s version of the 800 series, will be produced on United Kingdom assembly lines for distribution throughout Europe.

This is the way forward. It is an extremely sensible way. It is one that the company should be left to pursue on its own, so that it can develop its own future, not just in the market place, but with its own work force as well, members of which look with envy on the opportunities given to their Jaguar brethren who invested in their own business and have seen their investment grow quite staggeringly over the past four years. From those to whom I have spoken, I am certain that they would relish the opportunity in two or three years’ time to take part in the ownership of the business, working together as owners and part-shareholders towards its continuing prosperity.

Mr. Ray Horrocks told one of our Back-Bench organisations the other night that he considered this a distinct possibility, that the business could be viable, working in conjunction with others, for privatisation, so as to allow the employees a share of the business. Again the question must be posed: will the market continue to have confidence in the development of that business; confidence, alas, which has been badly shaken over the past few weeks? For that the company is already paying a very heavy price. Only a firm commitment by the Government that they will continue to allow the business to develop on its own, using the management that it possesses to make the right and appropriate decisions for the various markets of the world, will allow that confidence to be restored totally so that the company can recover the market share that it has unfortunately lost in the past few weeks.

The bid by General Motors for another portion of the business—the Leyland Truck, Land Rover and Freight Rover organisation—has equally dominated the media recently. Bedford, General Motors’ truck subsidiary, is as British as British can be, having been here for some 45 years or so, producing trucks. The British Army rides in its trucks now, just as Montgomery rode to El Alamein, so there is no question but that that company is a British business.

Unfortunately, although General Motors has invested large sums of money in this country, these days one has to invest very large sums of money indeed to maintain a market share. General Motors’ investment in Europe has largely come to be concentrated in countries like Spain and Germany, where more cars are produced than are produced in this country.

Although General Motors has, therefore, invested money in this country, it has not been enough to stem the rising tide of imports from other General Motors factories. One looks still with concern at the low British content of those Vauxhall cars that are made in this country. It is a job to justify 50 per cent. United Kingdom content in those products, even if one takes into account such things as heating and light and power in the factories that are ​ producing them. The result of this investment policy is that Bedford has been unable to invest in a new, modern range of trucks and its market share in this country—where once upon a time it was the dominant truck manufacturer—has dwindled to no more than about 11 per cent. One can compare this with Leyland Truck, which has had an enormous amount invested in it and which last month reached 16·4 per cent. of the United Kingdom market.

Leyland Truck faces problems. It would be no good ignoring the fact that the truck market is oversaturated within western Europe, with some 40 per cent. over-capacity. Some rationalisation would be sensible, and to everyone’s advantage. General Motors’ approaches to Leyland Truck are sensible and make a great deal of commercial sense. The management of Leyland Truck, and possibly even the work force, but certainly the dealers who handle the vehicles, would welcome a relationship so that the two combined organisations could well command about 25 per cent. of the United Kingdom market, which would turn that business, concentrating as it would, presumably, on the Leyland Truck factory in Lancashire, into one that was rather profitable, and certainly would act as a great stepping stone to re-establishing the British truck industry in European and world markets.

It has been said by many people that General Motors is interested in Land Rover and Freight Rover because if it were to purchase Leyland Truck it would find itself in some difficulty about what to do with its vacated Dunstable assembly lines, which would obviously come to pass, because rationalisation is the name of the game and production capacity would probably have to come out from there.

It is not necessary to expand Land Rover output at Dunstable or to move the Freight Rover van factory from Washwood Heath to Dunstable to make up any shortfall. General Motors could start assembling some of the 50,000 Vauxhall Novas that are brought in from Spain every year, or, indeed, improve its United Kingdom production levels of Cavalier and Senator cars which currently come from its Belgian and German factories. There is plenty of opportunity for that company to step up its investment in car production. I suggest that it turns its attentions to finding work for the vacant factory space in Dunstable, if Bedford trucks are to be made in Leyland in Lancashire. The company should look closely at expanding car output there.

In negotiations with people such as Bob Price, the head of General Motors, one is aware of an affable and knowledgeable person who I feel sure is open to firm suggestions from the Government as to how this matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of all. If the Government were to talk meaningfully with Mr. Price and his colleagues, a satisfactory outcome for the present purchase of parts of BL could be arrived at.

I do not go along with the view that General Motors has much to offer Land Rover or Freight Rover. A massive amount of investment has been made by the BL board over the past 10 years in Land Rover production at the Solihull plant. Brand new factory space was built in the late 1970s and as a result of the closure of eight or nine satellite factories and the bringing together under one area at the Lode lane factory in Solihull, Land Rover production is now completely in house on one site and ready to exploit that advantage with better productivity and lower manufacturing costs.

Perhaps it is a bit early at this stage to reach any conclusion as to how Land Rover will develop until it has had a chance to produce vehicles for two or three years on its total site complex and we can see the sort of financial progress that the business is making. Certainly there are grounds for great optimism, after a year or so of setbacks, when the company faced real problems in overseas markets, particularly in Africa, where it was battling with the strong problems of a petro currency in Britain, which affected all exporters. That is now not quite such a disadvantage because of the falling price of oil, which has once again put manufacturing back to the forefront of our exporting achievements.

The opportunities for Land Rover, and for most of our motor industry now to get to grips with the export market, are unparalleled. The concern that we express is that we should now let those companies develop, given the challenge and the opportunities that they have, before we decide whether we want to sell them to some overseas buyer from America or anywhere else, or whether we should sell them to the employees. That would be the most sensible policy to pursue. I do not doubt that the privatisation of Land Rover, along the lines of Jaguar, could be a realistic proposal within the next two years or so, given the potential of that product and its potential in America.

Many people criticised the company for not having exploited its American potential before, but the history of Land Rover is such that it hoped it could exploit the American market. During the 1970s, British Leyland’s main concern was to encourage car production for export, principally to the United States market, to tackle the problems of Jaguar. In those days the Triumph sports car, the MGB sports car and so on were exported to America and all the resources were used up on those product lines to ensure those cars reached the American market and there was nothing left for the fairly small number of Range Rovers which had been earmarked for that market. Therefore, by default Land Rover was never able to exploit that market.

One of the results of Land Rover’s semi-independence to operate within the British Leyland organisation is that it has been working hard to get the Range Rover accepted in the American market. It is not just a matter of offering a vehicle to that market; it has to reach and maintain the federal emission standards, the standards of construction and so on, all of which take a considerable time to achieve.

Most people would suggest that the best way to go forward is by the use of specialised dealerships which are being set up in America. The Range Rover is a particularly expensive and exclusive vehicle, with a specialist attraction. Whether it will ever find a sensible position in the market and be sold alongside Cadillacs or Chevrolets is open to a wide degree of discussion.

However, taking the advice of Porsche, which was not slow to exploit the American market, the correct way to exploit the market is to seek out specialist dealers—a handful in American terms, some 40 to 60 dealers—to major on the product concerned in a big way. That is what Jaguar is doing at the moment. Having the right investment, the right marketing factor and the right sales expertise is the way to exploit the American market. It should not be done by saturation coverage, which a tie-up with a multinational may or may not provide. Range Rovers are an exclusive British product and need to be marketed in that way. That is the ​ way that Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar and Rolls-Royce are seeking to exploit the American market. I think that that is the way that Land Rover ought to develop, given the opportunity so to do.

I shall deal with the problems of Freight Rover. We hear a great deal about the problems of inner city factories and the problems of holding and maintaining work within the inner city area. The Government have invested considerable sums of money, and continue to invest such money, to find work within the inner city areas not only for our young people, but for all sections of the community. An inner city factory is like a gem. It needs to be looked after and kept. It is a priceless asset. Freight Rover is such a factory in Birmingham, at Washwood Heath. It provides about 1,800 jobs for the community. Not all the workers emanate from the inner city area, but a considerable number of them do.

Freight Rover shares a factory with Austin Rover and produces the Sherpa range of light vans. It has achieved a significant place in the market, with growth of about 2·4 per cent. in a very competitive market over the past 12 months. It is a financially profitable organisation and its work force has maintained a level of productivity and dispute-free performance second to none. The workers have made particular sacrifices, as they recognise that Freight Rover is the only job they have and probably the only job they will keep, if at all possible, because of the dearth of opportunities elsewhere within the area. Therefore, we attach great importance to the maintenance of Freight Rover within the area. It is not just the provision o jobs, but the product itself. The years of development stand the test in the market place. It is a product which is wanted and which is finding growing acceptance, not just in the United Kingdom, but in the European markets.

It is not a push button, robotic factory. The vans produced are bespoke vans—built to the specifications of customers, such as the Post Office, British Telecom, the civil defence organisations and the Army. Those organisations buy a van with umpteen additions, with special brackets, special hinges, and all the rest.

I worked in the van factory with Morris Commercial before it moved to Freight Rover. A standard van used to be taken from the assembly line to a special building. Holes were drilled in the van to take special brackets and fitments and extra doors. The vehicle was then sold. The trouble is that every time a hole is drilled in a vehicle once it has left the assembly line, a rust point is made. That cannot be stopped.

The advantage of fitting the bits and pieces on the assembly line and rustproofing the whole van—Freight Rover pioneered a brand new rustproofing process, which has been copied by many other commercial vehicle producers—is that the vehicle will maintain a six or seven-year rustproof period. That is extremely desirable and acceptable to the customer and gives the company a niche in the market place which other more robotic-oriented manufacturers of vans cannot provide. Robots cannot be taught to fit a little bracket here or there—it must be done more or less by hand. That is not to say that the company is lacking in technology. It has what it describes as “islands of technology”, where robots are used for the basic welding of sub-components, body sides, and so on. The labour content is somewhat higher than in comparable factories because of the product that the company seeks to provide.

There is no doubt that if General Motors were to become involved in the business it would look carefully at Freight Rover. It has told me that it very much likes the prospect of having the opportunity of selling the 3½ tonne Sherpa van, which is only two and a half years old and would fill a gap in the market for its Bedford range. However, one cannot foresee the possibility of GM making those vehicles at Washwood Heath. It makes no sense to GM to share a corner of one of Austin Rover’s factories, producing vehicles in conditions which are not ideal. The factory space is cramped. One will not find any plush carpets, potted palms and twinkling fountains at Freight Rover. One will find a fairly compact factory in which every square metre of space is used. That is how it should be in a successful factory. The empty space of tiled floors is not a recipe for success. One looks to see how well organised and compact a factory is. Freight Rover is certainly that.

General Motors’ ownership of Freight Rover must have grave consequences. General Motors has not been able to spell out its exact future for the business, saying only that the workers there may be deployed to Land Rover production at some stage. GM has not been able to assure us categorically that jobs at Freight Rover will be maintained.

What is the possibility of a management buy-out of Land Rover and Freight Rover? We have been assured that the merchant bank Schroder Venture, has come forward with the capital. It is confident that the business, according to market and sales consultants, can and will be a viable alternative. We have been assured that it can proceed on its own, funding its own resources with the possible introduction, within two years, of extra capital through partial employee participation and in the sale of shares to raise £50 million.

The bank is confident that the business can find the funding necessary to produce new models. There is a question mark over this because Freight Rover has new models which have been developed in the past three or four years. Even GM concedes that there is no immediate intention of providing new models. Of course all companies have to develop their existing product range and refine it ever further, and Land Rover is no exception. It is certain from the statements by Schroder Venture and the management buy-out team that they can find the resources to develop the new models. Freight Rover needs £80 million to develop a new van range for its introduction in 1990–91.

That might be a large sum, but we must remember that it will be spread over a five-year period. That sum of £80 million will last in product terms for more than 20 years. Unlike the car business, where the vehicles must be updated every four or five years, a van will stay in production for something like a quarter of a century. Indeed, the existing Sherpa van is a derivative of a product that first saw the light of day in 1958 and, far from being unacceptable in the market place last year, the Sherpa had a higher market share than it has enjoyed in recent times.

The van market, therefore, does not change in quite the same way as the car market. The expenditure of £80 million for a product which will have a life of some 20–25 years is, I would submit, a sensible business arrangement and a sound investment.

One must express concern, if one carefully examines the consequences of a GM buy-out, for the future ​ opportunities for Austin Rover dealers who depend on a freight van and Land Rover products to supplement their car sales. The loss of a van range and the badging of it as a General Motors-Bedford van, as it might possibly be called, is one which would be difficult for the dealers to accept. That would reduce their profitability and open up the market again to a Japanese derivative, which would come in to take up the gap in the market place left by the Sherpa van. We are not in the business of encouraging any further Japanese imports into this country when we have our own, acceptable United Kingdom-produced products.

The future for the business as it stands is extremely good. The prospects are better now than they have been. General Motors’ involvement in Leyland Truck can only be commercially sound and is welcomed generally by all those involved in the business. I would submit that GM probably needs Leyland Truck as much as Leyland Truck needs the additional market and financial investment of GM. However, when one considers Freight Rover and Land Rover, it is hard to see on balance what benefits GM can bring to those organisations. It is true that they have the investment muscle but, alas, their history in this country is such that that investment muscle has not been used in the way that it ought to have been to create the jobs and products within this country.

Although GM has invested quite a substantial sum, an awful lot has not been done by that concern. That leads one to have grave doubts about its commitment to Land Rover and Freight Rover in the future. The management buy-out scheme is ready and able to take on the challenge and I believe that it should be backed. A work force in the west midlands of some 10,000 people is employed at Land Rover and Freight Rover. It has worked incredibly hard over the past three or four years to turn these businesses round. There is not one family in Birmingham that has not been touched by unemployment, rationalisation and change. Land Rover is the only major product range that the city has to manufacture and sell and we are rightly proud of it. When we look at our colleagues at Jaguar and see the results of their work, we consider that the work that we have put in as a city, an area and as a region in turning these businesses round means that we deserve the right to participate in their future as they develop.

This Government, above all others, have concentrated on the opportunities of creating a property-owning democracy by selling council houses and, good gracious, we have sold a lot in Birmingham, Solihull and elsewhere. We should extend that property owning democracy into a business-owning democracy. The thousands of workers at Land Rover and Freight Rover—and eventually at Austin Rover—should be given the opportunity of taking their place in the sun alongside their colleagues at Jaguar and so belonging to, and owning a part of, the company, working for its viability and its future. That is an opportunity that we should not pass by.

Guy Verhofstadt – 2019 Statement on Suspending Parliament

Below is the text of the Twitter comments made by Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit Co-ordinator for the European Parliament, on 28 August 2019.

“Taking back control” has never looked so sinister. As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity with those fighting for their voices to be heard.

Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU – UK relationship.

Jo Swinson – 2019 Statement on Suspending Parliament

Below is the text of the statement made by Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, on 28 August 2019.

I’ve written to the Queen to express my concern at Boris Johnson’s anti-democratic plan to shut down Parliament, and to request an urgent meeting.

This is a crucial time in our country’s history, and yet our Prime Minister is arrogantly attempting to force through a No Deal Brexit against the democratic will. He is outrageously stifling the voices of both the people and their representatives.

It is appalling that the Prime Minister has forced opposition leaders into taking this action. However, we must take all measures necessary to avoid a disastrous No Deal Brexit, for which there is no mandate.

Sue Hayman – 2019 Comments on Labour’s Animal Welfare Manifesto

Below is the text of the comments made by Sue Hayman, the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on 28 August 2019.

Consulting with members and animal rights organisations means that our policies are not campaigns of the month like the Tories, but thought through and comprehensive measures that will bring Britain’s animal welfare policy into the 21st century.

This suite of policies on animal welfare seeks to build upon the long standing leadership of the Labour Party on the issue of animal welfare. From bringing forward the landmark Hunting Act to protecting the treatment of domestic animals under the Animal Welfare Act, Labour has always placed the welfare of animals high on the policy agenda.

Labour will ensure that we have a comprehensive legislative agenda in place to make sure that the UK has animal rights protections equal to or better than anywhere in the world.

Jeremy Corbyn – 2019 Statement on Suspending Parliament

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, on 28 August 2019.

I am appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government, which talks about sovereignty and yet is seeking to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of its plans for a reckless No Deal Brexit. This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy.

That is why Labour has been working across Parliament to hold this reckless government to account, and prevent a disastrous No Deal which parliament has already ruled out. If Johnson has confidence in his plans he should put them to the people in a general election or public vote.

Stephen Barclay – 2019 Speech in Paris

Below is the text of the speech made by Stephen Barclay, the Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, in Paris, France on 28 August 2019.

After all, I am here because I want to be absolutely clear about the UK’s position at such a critical time, and would not want anything to be lost in translation.

In recent years some have tried to frame the UK/ France relationship in purely Brexit terms.

Yet the reality is that our historic, cultural, geographic and indeed economic ties are far too deep and broad to be defined by any one event.

After all, and as M Roux de Bezieux I’m sure will happily testify, even after Brexit the Six Nations rugby tournament will still emerge next Winter.

We work together to defend our values and our way of life as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and leading lights in NATO.

Our Armed Forces work closely together helping to secure peace around the world.
In the Sahel British helicopters are helping French soldiers to carry the fight to extremists.

While closer to home millions of UK nationals have just enjoyed summer holidays in France and vice versa.

Indeed our shared lives will be reflected in the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK in the coming years, more than 900 years after it was created.

And indeed in the past two weeks and the past week alone our Prime Minister has visited France twice to meet with President Macron – including at the successful G7 – and I extend the congratulations of the British Government to France for a successful G7.

They were both clear in being united on a number of vital issues, such as climate change and the environment, both as stout defenders of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement signed in this very city in 2016.

Our economic relationship is also vital to the prosperity of both our countries.

Since we voted to leave the EU in 2016 our bilateral trade has in fact increased by 12 per cent.

In total, bilateral trade was around €90bn in 2017, and the UK continues to be the number one destination for foreign investment in Europe and number three in the world.

In fact, since 2013, UK startups have raised more from US and Asian investors than most of Europe combined, and in the first half of this year, the UK received $3.5bn from US and Asian investors, compared to $0.9bn for Germany, $0.5bn for France and $2.9bn for the rest of Europe.

And indeed UK and French companies continue to work closely together – in fact I used to work for a French company – Axa, the very same company as did my French counterpart, your Secretary of State Amelie de Montchalin also worked for, whom I met earlier today.

The UK and France have a mutually beneficial partnership – one that has seen Alstom unveiling the design of its new zero-emission, hydrogen train, which will be re-engineered in Widnes, while Airbus which employs 14,000 people in the UK across 25 sites with more than 4000 UK companies in its supply chain.

And, of course, UK companies have a substantial presence here.

A British multinational contract foodservice Compas employs 14,000 people in its supply chains in France and serves over 210 million meals a year through its restaurants and in schools and hospitals.

And indeed as the PM pointed out last week – the sleek French TGV trains, on which many will have travelled this summer, run on tracks made by British Steel in Scunthorpe.

Our shared economic future is best served through a deal as the UK leaves the European Union – which we are committed to doing on the 31st October.

It is not just because the backstop has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament that we seek its removal.

As the Prime Minister made clear in his letter to Donald Tusk, and in their subsequent meeting, Parliament will not allow the people of Northern Ireland to be subject to an indefinite period of continued alignment.

It would mean Northern Irish voters – UK citizens – being governed by rules in which they have no say.

And since we can only leave the backstop by the agreement with the EU, once it is triggered we could be locked in it forever, something that the UK Attorney General has made clear and which indeed makes it harder to leave the backstop than it does indeed the EU itself.

But the backstop is not the entire Northern Ireland Protocol – it is just the relevant articles relating to alignment.

The Northern Ireland Protocol also covers the benefits of the Single Electricity Market. It covers North-South cooperation, the Common Travel Area.

None of these require continued regulatory alignment.

So the issues remaining before us are narrower than is often portrayed.

Yet the EU is seeking through the backstop a 100 per cent all-weather guarantee on the future economic partnership before we have even started those negotiations, and with insufficient time to conclude those negotiations because of the way the Article 50 talks were structured.

The backstop has also been universally rejected by one of the two key communities in Northern Ireland, which means it is an unstable basis for power sharing in Northern Ireland.

There is ample room – indeed there is a shared responsibility for all – to seek a solution that can enjoy genuine cross-party consent.

We understand the need to protect the integrity of the Single Market.

But it is our firm view that Irish border issues should be dealt with in the talks on the future agreement between the UK and the EU, where they should always have been, and we’re ready to negotiate in good faith on that basis.

We will do so with a cast-iron commitment to upholding the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.

And do not, please, misunderstand that commitment.

Together with our friends in Ireland no one is more aware of the need to maintain peace and freedom on the island of Ireland than the UK.

For years we have invested too much in it and care too much about it to see anything to put it at risk.

And indeed under no scenario will we erect the barriers at the border that would jeopardise its future.

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement directly impacts UK sovereignty. It has been supported by successive UK Governments of different political parties, and it is a firm commitment of this Prime Minister.

Too often the integrity of the single market is presented as a concern about the Good Friday Agreement, as if these two issues are the same.

In fact, the single market is clearly the priority for the EU, meaning that it is the EU that will insist on putting up a hard border in the event of a no deal.

This is something that everyone wants to avoid and the UK has guaranteed it will never do, even in the event of no deal.

Likewise the UK is often asked for more detail on its proposals.

Yet if the test is one of 100% certainty, all-weather, all-of-life insurance, then creative and flexible solutions will always be quickly shot down.

Progress requires creativity and flexibility on both sides – including in the application of single market rules.

We recognise the concern about the risk of a backdoor to the single market, but we need to deal with it in a different way, one which reflects the value of democracy that we share.

For when politicians ask the people to make a choice, it is the responsibility of the elected representatives to deliver on that choice.

It is not, as the PM has said, for politicians to choose which votes they want to act upon and those they would prefer to ignore.

The UK wants to use the Implementation Period to put in place alternative arrangements.

Now the EU says on one hand it wants to look for “creative and flexible solutions on the border in Northern Ireland” – the very words used by the European Council in its own guidelines, yet at the same time refuses to progress work on alternative arrangements until the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.

Likewise it is quick to dismiss the use of technology as ‘magical thinking’, while recognising such technology is part of the alternative arrangements which indeed it has agreed to progress.

The EU has used creativity and flexibility in the past, look at the arrangements in Switzerland, look at the arrangements when Germany reunified with the West.

So let’s look at this issue afresh as partners.

For if not and we move to a no deal exit, people will question in the future why there was such a lack of flexibility, and indeed why, in the pursuit of a 100 per cent guarantee of no risk on the Irish border at the end of 2020, we made real this risk in November.

But if a compromise cannot be found then we have been clear that we are leaving whatever the circumstances on 31st October.

People voted for Brexit and it is important to our democracy that we deliver it.

We have stepped up our preparations in the UK significantly under the new Government.

And we have also guaranteed the rights of the approximately 300,000 French nationals and indeed all EU nationals living in the UK.

These people make an immense contribution to UK national life and to our economy, which is why we have established a scheme to enable them to stay that is unprecedented in its ease of use.

It is free and more than one million people have already registered for settled status.

Of course, I welcome the moves that the French government has taken to protect the rights of UK citizens living here, and I acknowledge that these steps are required because of the decision we have taken in the UK to leave the EU.

But I call on the French government and others in the EU to match our offer and to provide certainty for UK nationals living here in France.

EU leaders repeatedly tell me how important Citizens’ Rights is to them, but not only has the Commission refused to agree a specific deal on Citizens’ Rights – as requested by all political parties in the UK – the offer here in France falls short of what we have set out in the UK in several respects including the criteria for registering residency, health insurance requirements, the rights of frontier workers.

For example, here in France UK Nationals must apply for a residence permit within six months of exit day.

And we would call on the French Government to extend that period, particularly as French citizens in the UK have until the end of 2020 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

And while we in the UK have waived the fee for EU citizens to register, the cost of the residence permit in France is €119.

Another area where we have concerns is healthcare.

We spend ten times more on healthcare in the EU than the EU spends in the UK.

And for UK nationals in France there is a shortage of information about the proposed future arrangements, while French citizens in the UK by exit day can be absolutely certain that they will have access to the NHS in the same way that they always have.

France will also require many British nationals already here to have health insurance and show that they have sufficient money to support themselves before they will be granted residency rights, a requirement the UK has not imposed on EU nationals.

For business visitors we are also clear that absolutely nothing will change for short trips to the UK from Europe, their ability to continue to travel to the UK to make their invaluable contribution to our economy which must continue as it has done for years.

The need for our wealth creators to move freely between our territories is well understood on both sides, and that is something the Commission agrees with us on also.

That freedom goes not only for passengers but also for imports and exports.

And while we are absolutely focused on securing a deal, alongside these discussions we must also now progress talks on the mitigations necessary for any no deal that may arise.

Take fishing for example, in the event of a no deal exit access to UK waters falls entirely within the UK’s control.

That, of course, has a potential impact on the French fishing industry.

Of the 250,000 tonnes of fish processed in Boulogne, the majority comes from UK waters and of the fish landed by French vessels, 40 per cent of it comes from UK waters.

At the same time, about 80,000 tonnes of our own salmon, scallops and other seafood products end up on the French table each year – you are a significant export market for us.

The exceptional fluidity of the cross-Channel trade routes supports the fishing industry, just as it does the car industry with its “just in time” supply chains.

That fluidity sees more than 1,100 trucks cross seamlessly into the UK from the Continent each day laden with car parts.

There are, of course, other changes that will arise from a no deal.

For example, Geographical Indicators. It’s worth recognising that there are over 3,000 products registered with GIs in the EU but only 88 are from the UK.

Or in agriculture where, according to France’s biggest farming union, French wine and spirits producers would be materially impacted. They’re set to have a €1.3bn annual surplus in trade with the UK.

Or France’s dairy industry which – according to the French Chambers of Agriculture – has an annual surplus in exports to the UK of €700-800m.

And let’s not forget the fantastic educational exchanges enjoyed by students across Europe, which French students in the UK take advantage of every year.

Today we spend millions of pounds subsidising the up-front costs of those tuition fees, and indeed, allowing EU nationals access to support for undergraduate courses in England starting in the 20/21 academic year is estimated to cost us around half a billion pounds for that year alone.

Monsieur President these are just some of the areas that it is our job – as politicians and business leaders – not just to protect but allow to flourish.

Our new partnership must be built on the intimate understanding that it is founded on one that has existed for hundreds of years.

France and the UK are two of the world’s oldest and greatest democracies.

Yes we have always been global and outward looking. Champions of democracy, free trade, the rule of law and defending those who cannot defend themselves.

But there is something deeper, an emotional connection, that binds us – and will always bind us – together as nations.

We are inextricably linked through our shared values and our love of each other’s cultures.

So I conclude by reaffirming that I, the Prime Minister, the British Government are aiming for a deal.

We will be ready for no deal if it happens, but from the meetings I have had here this morning and those in Denmark, Finland and Sweden last week, one thing is absolutely clear.

Businesses across Europe want an end to the uncertainty and have the confidence to take advantage of the huge opportunities that trading with the UK presents.

That is best served with a deal.

A deal which honours the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement but without the backstop as the UK Parliament has made clear.

That is what our Government seeks, and Mr President, with good will on all sides it is what we can deliver.

Thank you

John Butcher – 1986 Speech on European Industrial Policy

Below is the text of the speech made by John Butcher, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, in the House of Commons on 13 March 1986.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer) for bringing this subject to the attention of the House. Many of my colleagues have observed his healthy fixation with this matter. He is motivated purely by a desire to help Europe produce a truly common market against which our industrial companies can make their marketing plans and, we hope, go on to achieve success on a world scale having taken advantage of that large and burgeoning market.

My hon. Friend has asked two key questions—does Europe face an industrial problem and, if so, what can Governments do to tackle it, acting together in the European Community? In other words, do we need a European industrial policy and, if so, what sort of policy should it be?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that there is a problem—a problem for Europe as a whole as well as for us in Britain. It is a problem of competitiveness: the global competitiveness of some sectors of European industry. It is manifest in the painful process of adjustment that has been necessary in our industrial structures, which is not yet complete. It is manifest equally in Europe’s relative weakness compared to the United States and Japan. Success is crucial in the new technologies if we are to create the wealth and jobs that our societies need.

The symptoms are well known. The European Community’s share of export markets in some fast-growing sectors has declined. Between 1973 and 1983, for example, the European Commission has estimated that the Community’s share of export markets in electrical and electronic products declined by just under 2 per cent., while the United States and Japanese shares in the same sectors increased.

Import penetration in similar sectors has increased faster in the Community market than in the markets of its major competitors. In information technology and electronics, for example, it has been estimated that penetration rates between 1973 and 1982 rose from 10 per cent. to 17 per cent. in the EEC; from around 6 per cent. to around 10 per cent. in the United States; and from around 4 per cent. to around 5 per cent. in Japan. Europe has been less successful than either the United States or Japan in creating new jobs. Since 1972, an additional 19 million jobs have been created in the United States and 5 million in Japan. In Europe as a whole, with a much larger overall population, employment levels have remained virtually static.

What, then, can Governments usefully do to strengthen Europe’s industrial capability? Two strategies are sometimes suggested which would clearly not help—indeed, they would make matters worse. One is a strategy ​ of generalised protection: Fortress Europe. The other is a strategy of generalised state subsidy and state intervention. Both would be costly to consumers and taxpayers. Both would be anti-competitive, distort the market and blunt the edge of the primary stimulus to commercial success. For these reasons, neither strategy would ultimately work.

As I see it, an effective European industrial policy must have three basic objectives. First, it must open up the internal Community market, making a reality of the single, integrated market envisaged in the treaty of Rome. It must improve the climate for enterprise in Europe, not least by tackling regulatory burdens on business. It must encourage closer market-led collaboration between European businesses, above all in advanced technology.

The first of those objectives is fundamental. The sheer size of their home markets and the economies of scale that they afford offer American and Japanese industry a major competitive advantage. The creation of a similarly integrated domestic market for European business is perhaps the most important single step we can take to strengthen Europe’s industrial performance.

The goal is a genuine European market of 320 million customers, matching the 230 million customers in the domestic market of the United States and the 120 million in the domestic market of Japan. The European Community has been working towards this goal for nearly 30 years. It still eludes us. True, tariff barriers and quotas have been effectively eliminated in intra-Community trade. But the free movement of goods throughout the Community is still obstructed by “non-tariff’ barriers, such as frontier formalities and differing national product standards.

Similarly, the growth of a free and competitive market for services, particularly in sectors such as financial services and transport, which provide essential service infrastructure for manufacturing, is blocked by a range of restrictions in many member states. The efficient functioning of the European market as a whole is distorted by the protective use of public purchasing and other public sector aids. There is a new determination in Europe to tackle these problems.

Last June, the European Council at Milan endorsed the broad thrust of an important White Paper from the Commission that set out a detailed plan for action required to complete the internal Community market by 1992.
Mr. Speaker, it may be because of the early hour, but it is interesting to note that in the copy of my speech, the word “internal” looks disconcertingly like the word “infernal”. It may be something to do with the typewriter.

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands, as the two countries occupying the Community presidency this year, have produced jointly the action programme targeting more than 100 issues for decision by the end of 1986. It will be a central aim of our presidency, in the second half of the year, to maintain maximum impetus behind that programme.

A second aim of European industrial policy should be to improve the framework within which industry operates. That is partly a matter of action at national level on a wide variety of fronts. We in Britain are increasingly aware of the need to promote more positive attitudes to industry and to wealth creation; to make our education system more responsive to industrial needs; and to cut the burden of regulation on business. They are priority concerns for many of our Community partners, too.

The third objective that I identified was to promote European business collaboration in advanced technology. In telecommunications, for example, about 15 European companies are competing for a share of the European market—as compared with the four or five giant American firms which dominate the United States market. The pattern is much the same in other growth sectors. Collaboration within an increasingly integrated European market is inevitable if a competitive European presence in those sectors is to survive.

Collaboration in research and development—spreading risks, spreading costs and exploiting the strength of pooled resources—is one major way forward. The Community has developed some important support schemes to encourage collaborative R and D at the so-called ”pre-competitive” stage. The ESPRIT programme, for example, which is focused on information technology and complementing our Alvey programme, is starting to gather pace. We have the BRITIE programme for industrial technology, and RACE for broad-band communications.

Such programmes reflect a welcome shift of emphasis in Community-funded research. They are directly relevant to industrial needs. They use Community money—public money—to stimulate spending by business. In discussions which are starting in Brussels on a new framework programme for Community R and D in the five years 1987–91 we are determined to encourage this trend towards market-oriented, cost-effective effort.

But action at Community level is not the end of the story. Industrial collaboration in Europe can often usefully extend beyond the 12 member states. The aim must be to develop specific products or services which will be competitive on world markets. Both those elements are central to the EUREKA initiative. EUREKA is giving major impetus to European collaboration in new technology. Eighteen European countries are involved. More than 20 collaborative projects are already at an advanced stage, and British firms are participating in six of them. They are actively pursuing proposals in many other areas. We are currently hosting and chairing the EUREKA discussions. It is fair to say that our thinking has made a major contribution to the shape of the initiative, following its successful launch by President Mitterrand last year.

EUREKA is not, and could not sensibly become, a new financing mechanism. Finance for EUREKA projects is a matter for the participating firms, with support where appropriate from their national Governments under national schemes. I should add in this connection that British firms participating in worthwhile EUREKA projects can qualify for assistance under our existing R and D support schemes.

EUREKA offers two important advantages to industry. First, it will wire British and other European firms into a Europe-wide network for the exchange of information on new collaborative proposals and opportunities. Secondly, and even more important, it will provide a framework in which business and Governments can identify, and put new momentum behind, concrete action in the Community and elsewhere, to open the European market for the benefit of the projects concerned. There could be action, for example, to generate new European technical standards or to liberalise public sector purchasing.

I have outlined what, as we see it, is a co-ordinated European industrial policy and what it can sensibly seek to achieve. I hope that my hon. Friend agrees that no ​ industrial policy vacuum in Europe is crying out to be filled. The reality, rather, is that the Community as a whole is already acting in the areas I have described to strengthen Europe’s industrial base. Progress in those areas is essential for the health and competitiveness of industry in Britain and in other member states. We are throwing our full weight behind the initiatives in hand.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, North-West for bringing this matter to the attention of the House. I noted his endorsement of the need for what he called a Minister responsible for co-ordinating procurement and industrial policies generally, and his suggestion that full weight be given to the European alternative. No doubt those words, which are now on the record, will be noted in the appropriate quarter. In the interests of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike), who, with great professionalism, has decided to launch his debate at 7.34 am, and those of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, the best thing that I can do now is to thank my hon. Friend once again and to wish you, Mr. Speaker, a very good morning.