I thank the Secretary of State for that positive response, but I would like further clarification on a number of issues.
First, although I welcome PSA’s promise to honour existing contracts, I am deeply concerned about the 40,000 workers who are currently employed at Luton and Ellesmere Port and in the wider supply chain, who will be worried about the future of their jobs. What assurances has the Secretary of State personally received about the future of Vauxhall’s plants and the wider UK workforce beyond existing contracts? During his discussions with PSA, did it confirm that the production of the new Astra model would take place in the UK?
Secondly, there has been some discussion about the £1 billion deficit in General Motors’ UK pension scheme, with some commentators stating that it could have jeopardised the deal. The scheme has 15,000 members and is one of the largest in the UK. Can the Secretary of State assure the House that the pensions of the UK workforce are guaranteed in full?
Thirdly, it is increasingly clear that the Government have little power to ensure that certain corporate takeovers are in the public interest and accord with Britain’s industrial strategy. Existing legislation allows intervention only when matters relate to national security or media concentration. Does the Secretary of State have any plans to broaden the definition of public interest, for example to serve stakeholders and not just shareholders? If so, when will he publish the draft legislation?
Finally, what support has been offered to PSA following Britain’s exit from the European Union? We welcomed Nissan’s decision to remain in the UK as a result of assurances provided by this Government. Has PSA been offered the same deal? If so, would it not make sense for the Government to set out their strategy for this sector as a whole, rather than enlightening businesses one crisis at a time?