GOVERNMENT SLAMMED BY AUSTIN ROVER CHIEF
By Michael Smith, industrial editor
The Governments handling of the BL break up has again been bitterly attcked by Mr Ray Horrocks, chief executive of Austin Rover. Mr Horrocks spoke last night of the “highly damaging uncertainty” caused by the privatisation programme in what ammounts to his second public attack on the governments sell off plans. It was the second time this week that a top BL executive criticised the governments handling of the break up. On Tuesday, Austin Rover managing director Mark Snowdon said the uncertainty had cost BL around 40,000 in lost car sales, worth around £200 million.
Speaking in Leeds last night Mr Horrocks returned to the attack by saying that more than anything BL now required “stability and above all time”. Mr Horrocks said that perhaps three or four years was needed for BL to acquire the “financial robustness without regular and highly damaging uncertainty about its immediate future.”
He went on: “This inability to recognise the damage being done to a company’s products and reputation—-particulary in overseas markets—-is to totally misunderstand the need for confidence within a highly competitive industry. That is why I called it a cruel and shameful persecution in evidence to the Select Committee on Trade and Industry the other week”, he said.
Mr Horrocks criticism will inevitably provide fresh amunition for opponents of the BL break up plan. Mr Horrocks told MP’s last month that he had been demoted by the Government after leading the opposition to earlier plans to sell Austin Rover to Ford of America.
In his speech last night Mr Horrocks also took a side swipe at government industrial policies as a whole. “We seem to be making very heavy weather of our industrial strategy to the point where it is pertinent to ask if, indeed, there is a cogent strategy beyond the political platitudes of the market place will determine or the service sector will provide,” he said.