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Ford in Bridgend

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns The Secretary of State for Wales 5:31 pm, 10th June 2019

I thank the hon. Lady for her comments, but I must express disappointment in the tone that she chose to take, which contrasted with the tone adopted by both the Welsh Government and the unions.

Earlier, the Business Secretary and I spoke to Ken Skates, the unions and many local Members of Parliament as part of a communications plan to share our ambitions and discuss the steps that we will take before the taskforce meets, hopefully later this week. Ken Skates and I will be joint vice-chairs of that taskforce and there will also be a chair from industry. That demonstrates the joint approach that we are taking, in a constructive way, recognising that this is a commercial decision made by Ford because of the change in the marketplace caused by the shift from petrol and diesel engines to electric vehicles. I commend the Welsh Government for the joint working that they have demonstrated so far, and I commend the unions for their engagement and the tone that they have adopted in the discussions.

Like many other Members, the hon. Lady pointed to Brexit. Those Members are being somewhat selective. It is right that the manufacturing sector, in particular, seeks a stable economic environment from which to export to the European market, but Ford was a strong supporter of the Prime Minister’s deal, which the Labour party chose to vote against. Whatever uncertainty exists over the Brexit negotiations, I think that the hon. Lady and other Labour Members need to accept their responsibility. They played a part in that. They have been highly selective in quoting comments and recommendations from Ford.

The hon. Lady was right to say that this is a highly efficient plant with a very skilled workforce. We will continue to work to attract investment in the site, be it from Ford—although we have not succeeded in doing that since the Jaguar Land Rover engine contract was announced—or others. We will also engage with other potential investors in the Brocastle site, which is adjacent to the Ford plant. We are in discussion with some potential investors at a mature stage, but it will be up to those organisations to make the final decision about whether to invest. We are in discussion with other organisations in the automotive sector that could provide exciting opportunities. We all recognise the skill and the quality of the workforce. The potential investors recognise it, which is why they are engaging so positively with us and with the Welsh Government. I also underline that Ford job losses are also taking place in Europe: there have been 5,000 job losses in Germany as well as job losses and shift changes in Spain.

In closing my response to the hon. Lady, I remind her that there are now 100,000 more manufacturing jobs in the UK economy and 13,000 more manufacturing jobs in Wales than there were in 2010.