Automotive Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 21st March 2007.

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Photo of Wayne David Wayne David Labour, Caerphilly 11:30 am, 21st March 2007

What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on the future of the automotive industry in Wales.

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office

I have regular discussions with the First Minister on a range of issues, including the automotive industry in Wales.

Photo of Wayne David Wayne David Labour, Caerphilly

I accept that some automotive companies have been relocated from Wales to eastern Europe, but does my hon. Friend accept that there have been major expansions and relocations within Wales? There has been what the Western Mail has called a "mini-surge" for the Welsh automotive industry. I am thinking particularly of a company called Mollertech, in the borough of Caerphilly. Will my hon. Friend acknowledge that that is an indication of the strength and success of the Welsh economy?

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office

Yes, indeed. Wales now has record levels of employment, and part of that success is due to investment in the automotive sector there. My hon. Friend mentioned the Mollertech investment, which will create 99 jobs in Caerphilly with a £10.7 million expansion and support from the Welsh Assembly Government. Ford Bridgend is creating more than 200 posts over the next two years with a £100 million investment; Toyota is investing about £100 million in its Deeside plant, safeguarding 680 jobs; and Takao Europe Manufacturing is investing £3.2 million, which will create 100 jobs in Ebbw Vale. It is clear that, having gone through a particularly difficult period, the automotive industry is now seeing the benefits of expansion and investment, which are safeguarding existing jobs and creating new ones.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

The Minister must not be complacent, because in each year of the Labour Government manufacturing jobs have been lost in Wales. Ford Bridgend employs more than 1,600 workers and has made more than 13 million engines since 1980 when it came into being, including the world-beating Land Rover engine. In an hour's time, in an attempt to appear green, the Chancellor will double the taxes on so-called 4x4s. What effect does the Minister estimate that that will have on jobs at that plant, and also on the incomes of our hard-pressed Welsh farmers, who rely on such vehicles?

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office

The hon. Lady will have to be patient and wait to hear what announcements the Chancellor makes in a little over half an hour's time. I am surprised that she implies that there is no real improvement in, and investment going into, the automotive industry. I have listed the successes that we have had in recent years. Frankly, the last thing that the Welsh economy and Welsh business need is a return to the failed Tory policies— [Interruption.] Those failed policies led to two recessions— [Interruption.] They led to two recessions since the war and 160,000 unemployed in Wales—