Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port and Battery Manufacturing Strategy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 1st March 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons), Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 3:38 pm, 1st March 2021

I bring it to the House’s attention that I am a vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary motor group and the chemical industry all-party parliamentary group.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his response to my urgent question and for his kind words. The industrial strategy made a number of commitments. One was to make Britain a home for vaccine development and to build vaccine manufacturing capability. Another was to make Britain a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles, including the batteries that power them. I mention them both not to claim special prescience, but rather the opposite; both are obviously required if our industrial strengths are to continue in the future.

In the case of electric vehicles, there are three important facts. First, we have one of the most important, diverse and efficient car industries in the world, employing over 800,000 people in all parts of Britain. Secondly, by 2030 no new car will be sold in Britain with simply a petrol or a diesel engine. Thirdly, unless the batteries for vehicles made in the UK are manufactured in Britain within five years, the cars that they power will no longer be able to be exported tariff-free to the EU. We therefore urgently need to install the manufacturing capacity in the UK. That means not just one gigafactory, but many. It all needs to be planned, built and operating at scale within five years.

In the case of Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port, as the Secretary of State says, a decision is imminent as to whether a new electric model will be built there. The same is true of Jaguar Land Rover in the west midlands and supply chain companies such as GKN. A laissez-faire approach will not do it, and neither will just general encouragement. It requires sleeves-rolled-up concrete action to be taken now between Government and industry, just as was the case with vaccines. Will the Secretary of State, for whom I have a high regard, make this commitment today and do whatever it takes urgently to ensure that Britain is a global force in manufacturing electric vehicles long into the future?