It was with great regret that I accepted your decision to leave the Cabinet and the Government.
I was very glad that you supported this morning our decision to reaffirm the policy that it is for the Westland company to decide the course to follow in the best interest of the company and its employees. It was therefore a matter for regret that you were alone in being unable to accept the Cabinet's decision on how to give practical effect to that policy by interdepartmental clearance of all answers to questions addressed to Ministers during this period of sensitive commercial negotiations and decisions.
I want to thank you for your contribution to the work of Conservative Governments over the years. Your career in Government has been one of distinction from the time when you joined the Ministry of Transport in 1970 and subsequently became a Minister for Aerospace and Shipping. While you were Secretary of State for the Environment between 1979 and 1983, you pioneered radical changes in the effective management of departmental business. You carried through our policy on the Right to Buy local authority housing which has greatly expanded home ownership. You launched the Development Corporations in Merseyside and [end p1] London Docklands. As Secretary of State for Defence you have presided over an historic reorganisation of the Ministry itself. You have set us on the path to achieve better value for money from defence procurement, and in the Dockyard Services Bill you have shaped the policy for the radical reform of the naval dockyards.
I am therefore very sorry about the decision that you took this morning.