Bombardier

Part of Race Disparity Audit – in the House of Commons at 2:17 pm on 10th October 2017.

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Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 2:17 pm, 10th October 2017

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement.

Following a complaint by Boeing, on 26 September the US Department of Commerce ruled that Bombardier had benefited from state subsidies and imposed a 219% tariff, and on 6 October it found engagement in below-cost selling and imposed an additional tariff of 80%. This decision has catastrophic ramifications for Bombardier, the 4,000 staff it employs directly in Northern Ireland and the 20,000 staff employed throughout the UK in supply chains. Not only does this jeopardise the livelihoods of thousands, but the Northern Irish economy also faces a serious threat, as Bombardier represents 8% of Northern Ireland’s GDP and about 40% of manufacturing output, so the danger to jobs, the future of Bombardier and the Northern Irish economy because of these decisions in the US is very real.

Sadly, also very real has been the apparent inaction of the Government thus far. The Opposition have repeatedly sought information from them, but we have so far been disappointed by the response—so today I will try again. First, what was the specific content of, and what commitments were made during, the Prime Minister’s and other Cabinet members’ conversations with the US Administration and indeed Boeing?

Secondly, have the Government had any discussions at all with the European Commission, specifically with the Directorates-General for Trade and for Competition, about the support that it might be able to provide? Thirdly, does the Secretary of State have any plans to target all relevant US legislators to lobby the US Administration, including the Senate Committee on Finance, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and those with constituency interests in Bombardier and its wider supply chain?

Given the devastating impact on the Northern Irish economy and on the already fragile Northern Irish peace settlement, what attempts has the Secretary of State made to urge the Irish Government to apply greater political pressure on the Irish caucus on the Hill to highlight the fact that this is not simply a US-Canada dispute, as the Secretary of State for International Trade has sadly already suggested? Fourthly, what attempts have the Government made thus far to provide evidence to the US independent Trade Commission that Boeing did not compete for the Delta contract and does not manufacture a comparable model to the C Series that would have matched the contract specification?

Finally, does the Secretary of State accept that this whole affair demonstrates the very real security risk of military reliance on one foreign supplier? Ministry of Defence contracts with Boeing total £4.5 billion, but is it correct, as reports suggest, that the Defence Secretary is reluctant to use that leverage because of our dependency on the company? Worse still, the Northern Ireland Secretary and the International Trade Secretary have been somewhat quiet on the issue. Are they afraid of being exposed in Northern Ireland for their failure to protect jobs, or are they so keen to score a sweetheart trade deal with the US that they simply want to wash their hands of this matter? Clearly, politics is being put ahead of the welfare of workers in Northern Ireland. I eagerly await the Secretary of State’s response to my questions, but I fear that Bombardier and everyone who depends on the firm are considered by this Conservative Government to be a fair price to pay for a post-Brexit trade deal with President Trump.