Hansard Extract – 3 April 2000


Mr. Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield): Is it not a fact that the people of Longbridge, the workers of Rover and, indeed, everyone else, were assured by BMW that it was in for the long term? It was not just in words. New plant for the new Mini was still going in at the very time that BMW made the announcement; indeed, work was still going on last week.

Is it not important that we look to the future? Is that not the real issue in the interests of workers at Longbridge and elsewhere? After the huge rally in Birmingham on Saturday, does not a message need to go to BMW that it is not acceptable to trade away the future of entire communities in secret boardroom deals, and that the long-term interests of its employees and the communities that rely on Rover must be a central part of its decisions and negotiations in coming weeks?

BMW should consider all credible potential bidders. The long-term interests of those communities should be one of its central considerations. Will the Secretary of State back the people of Longbridge and all Rover workers in asking for those things to be done?

Mr. Byers: My hon. Friend has been a powerful advocate for the work force at Longbridge. I will certainly take his important points into account.

My hon. Friend touches on the decision by BMW to continue in January and February with the investment in the Mini at Longbridge, a clear sign that it was committed to Rover and to the UK. Running alongside that were further signs. BMW had a team working with the Department of Trade and Industry to submit the application for European Union aid, which went in on 24 February. It called together its UK Rover dealers and

3 Apr 2000 : Column 633

encouraged them to invest in new showrooms for the future. At the Geneva motorshow on 28 February, Professor Milberg said:

“We are committed and steadfast to Rover in the United Kingdom.”

There were all those public demonstrations, which every reasonable person would have assumed meant that BMW and Rover were in for the long haul. That is the reality of the situation. There was no indication that it intended to pull out of Rover and the UK. out of Rover and the UK.


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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.