Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 9th May 2000.

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Photo of Stephen Byers Stephen Byers Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry 3:30 pm, 9th May 2000

Alchemy made a clear public statement earlier today that its discussions with BMW have terminated as a result of the contracts that have been entered into.

On the relationship between Phoenix, BMW and the Inland Revenue, those matters will be dealt with in the normal way that they would be processed by the Inland Revenue.

On the hon. Gentleman's point about the strength of sterling, it is worth noting that, although there are difficulties in some parts of manufacturing as a result of the strength of sterling and the relative weakness of European currencies—it is worth reminding the House that, over the past week, the pound has depreciated in value against the dollar and the Japanese yen—some manufacturers in the car sector are still investing in the United Kingdom and in Vauxhall, Honda and Jaguar. Therefore, there is some good news in the car sector. We know that Ford is reviewing its operations in the whole of Europe, but that has not been motivated by any concerns about the strength of sterling. It has been led by over-production in the car market, which, in the case of Ford, is about 20 to 25 per cent. in Europe.