I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the constructive approach he has taken to working with all partners involved in the mid-Wales growth deal. My ministerial colleague in the other place has undertaken extensive engagement with local authorities and the private sector in mid-Wales, most recently at Welshpool on
The University of Aberystwyth and the internationally acclaimed Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences—IBERS—are both key partners in the mid-Wales growth deal, and the facilities at the new Gogerddan innovation campus will cement their place as leaders in the areas of agri-food and biotechnology and allow the area to become a centre for expertise in controlled environment agriculture and vertical farming. The benefits that this would bring to the agricultural industry are significant, but rather than take my word for it, will the Minister visit the Gogerddan campus, so that he can see for himself the world-leading research being undertaken in Ceredigion?
That is certainly an invite any Wales Office Minister would find hard to refuse; we will try to co-ordinate. It is vital that the mid-Wales growth deal focuses on sectors such as agri-tech, where there is a significant opportunity to introduce transformational economic change. We encourage our partners to work closely with research institutions such as IBERS to put together a compelling case to both Governments.
Given that a western rail link to Heathrow would connect south Wales stations such as Swansea, Cardiff and Newport directly to Heathrow, cutting up to half an hour off journey times, and mean London and south Wales would be better connected, benefiting businesses, tourists and the Welsh economy—
The hon. Gentleman was meant to say “Question 13”, but he was so overcome with excitement that he neglected to do so. Never mind. We will take it as part of Question 11.
As the hon. Gentleman will know, I am quite a fan of the potential benefits of the western rail access to Heathrow, which could unlock more growth and opportunities across the area served by Great Western. Regular representations are made, and I am sure the Chancellor, who is now on the Front Bench, will have heard those the hon. Gentleman has just made.
The reality, with the potential closure, is 1,700 jobs gone at Ford and between 6,000 and 7,000 in the supply chain. It is no good the Secretary of State saying manufacturing is buoyant, with all these potential job losses coming. We need economic stimulus packages from the UK Government in support of the Welsh Government. What is the Minister going to do about it to protect these jobs?