EU Membership (Effect on Jobs)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 26th March 2014.

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Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn 11:30 am, 26th March 2014

What estimate he has made of the number of jobs in Wales that depend on the UK’s membership of the EU.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Government Whip

Businesses in Wales and across the UK are not satisfied with the current relationship with the EU, and want reform and renegotiation. That is what our Prime Minister is committed to achieving to boost our growth and competitiveness, and to secure new jobs.

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn

I am surprised that the Minister did not mention the number of jobs that are dependent on the EU. He will know that the business community wants both stability and certainty, and they want to see Wales at the heart of the United Kingdom and the European Union. Does he therefore agree with the CBI, which says that Labour’s policy of reforming from within is good for jobs in Wales and the United Kingdom?

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Government Whip

I am surprised by the hon. Gentleman’s question, because he should know that 77% of all British businesses support the position that this Government are taking on reform and renegotiation. That position is supported by the CBI, the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce. There is widespread support within the business community for reforming our relationship with Europe to become more competitive, and to secure new investment and jobs.

Photo of Mark Williams Mark Williams Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion

The Government’s position is not, however, supported by the Farmers Union of Wales. Given that €400 million are pumped into the rural Welsh economy, convergence funding for west Wales and the valleys has had a huge impact. Will my hon. Friend be cheering on Nick or Nigel in this evening’s debate?

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Government Whip

The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that I will be cheering on neither Nick nor Nigel in this evening’s debate. I hear what he is saying. I, too, speak to a lot of farmers in west Wales and they tell me that they do not want to be seen as just reliant on handouts from the European Union. They want to be regarded as business men and women in their own right, so they support our position to reform the European Union and to become more competitive.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Substitute Member)

The Minister should be aware that 150,000 jobs in Wales and 25,000 jobs in the Swansea bay city region depend on trade with Europe. Does he accept that firms such as Unilever, Nissan and others are saying that even talk of a referendum is undermining investment and jobs in Wales today, and that if we do in fact end up outside Europe following a referendum, they will withdraw jobs and investment from Wales and Britain? Will he therefore oppose such a referendum?

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Government Whip

The hon. Gentleman’s position is not correct and is not supported by the facts on the ground. He should not scaremonger and use old figures to suggest that businesses are scared to talk about reform and renegotiation. Investment is coming into the United Kingdom and into Wales. The prospects for the Welsh economy are very positive indeed.