Archive : 40 years ago – Mini needs money

On 26 April 1977, British Leyland was still finding its way under the Government’s control, having been bailed out the previous year. The priority was to get the Mini’s replacement into production.

To do that, it needed to deliver the Ryder Report, and hope that James Callaghan’s Labour Government would foot the bill. Here’s how The Times reported the story.

British Leyland to press for new Mini

British Leyland’s board is believed to be recommending that production of a new Mini at its Longbridge factory, Birmingham, should go ahead. The recommendation comes in a review of the company’s future which will be submitted to the National Enterprise Board within the next few days.

British Leyland is hoping for a decision by the Government on the review by the beginning of June. Sir Richard Dobson (right), Leyland’s Chairman, yesterday declined to comment on the review.

But he said: ‘The board still believes that Leyland is capable of entering the 1980s as a substantial and viable business and that our report reflects this confidence.’

In answer to questions he made it clear that he thought it important for the group to have a model range which covered the whole spectrum of the market. Leyland’s accounts, published today, reveal that although the car division has called a three-month ban on investment, the group overall has committed itself to a rising spending programme after the injection of NEB finance.

£196m of spending approved

Year end spending approved by the board totalled £196m, of which contracts worth £65m had been placed. This compares with spending of only £113m on fixed assets and tooling during 1976.

Sir Richard, in his Chairman’s Statement, comments that if there were to be industrial peace the next phase of pay policy, ‘must permit some rationalisation of relative rates of pay both between people doing similar jobs in different places and between various levels of skill and responsibility.’

Keith Adams

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