Manufacturing Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:20 pm on 16th October 1991.

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Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw 6:20 pm, 16th October 1991

I am grateful for that information. In that case, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would not mind meeting a deputation from the Coalfield Communities Campaign to straighten things out. In July, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment wrote to the Coalfield Communities Campaign: little purpose would be served by a meeting. I take it that the right hon.. Gentleman and his Ministers will now be prepared to meet representatives of the campaign so that we can clear up this important matter.

During Trade and Industry questions, mention was made of the reason that Toyota has decided to go to Derby. That company has chosen to go to Derby without any Government cash when so many coalfield areas with far higher unemployment are absolutely desperate for that type of work. Nissan went to the north-east and the coalfield areas of south and north Yorkshire would have given anything for the Toyota plant. The Minister claimed that the Toyota decision showed that the free market was working. However, if Japanese entrepreneurs and firms are allowed to choose where they want to establish in this country without being steered or bribed into the important areas, surely that does nothing to solve existing problems.

Toyota has gone to Derbyshire for one reason—to steal the skilled workers from British Rail Engineering Ltd., Rolls-Royce and the other car manufacturers in the area. Toyota has not established in any other area because mining skills are not transferable—they are not engineering skills. Despite massive unemployment, we face a massive skills shortage. Foreign industries therefore invest in the areas with a skilled work force.

Toyota will simply offer more money to Rolls-Royce engineers. It will recruit those engineers and those employed by BREL and that will cause skill shortages in those companies. Those engineers will be used to train Toyota's own people, as it will not import Japanese personnel to train the new employees. Toyota must get its skilled workers from somewhere, and that is why it has gone to Derby, an area with a skilled work force. It will poach the skilled workers who are desperately needed in other industries.