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I congratulate my hon. Friend Matt Western on securing this debate on a sector that is so important to the city that I represent and the wider region. The automotive industry is at the heart of my home town of Coventry. The British motor industry was born there—the names originating there include Jaguar, Rover, Triumph and Armstrong Siddeley. The first ever British car was built in Coventry more than 120 years ago. The industry gave Coventry people much needed prosperity, and my city thrived because of that.
Coventry now boasts two world-class universities specialising in automation: Coventry University and the University of Warwick, with its Warwick Manufacturing Group. Coventry University is home to the National Transport Design Centre. The National Automotive Innovation Centre, a partnership between Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, WMG and the University of Warwick, is set to open this summer. It will be the largest automotive R&D facility in Europe and shows a commitment by the university and industry giants to continue Coventry’s history as the UK’s motor city. Jaguar Land Rover is now firmly entrenched in the makeup of the city, with the firm’s headquarters at Whitley. Recently JLR even declared its intention to make Coventry the heart of its large-scale battery and electric vehicle production plans. JLR brings jobs and security to my city, as it does for the wider west midlands. Its success and Coventry’s fortunes are inextricably tied.
With those things in mind, I share my hon. Friend’s desire to protect the UK automotive industry at all costs. The UK’s departure from the EU presents new challenges to the sector, which Jaguar Land Rover has openly stated may be detrimental to business. Uncertainty is bad for business. It is vital to offer safeguards to companies such as JLR and universities such as Coventry and Warwick to maintain the UK’s place in the industry. Yet protecting Coventry’s automotive status is vital not just for companies and universities but for employees. There have already been job losses in the west midlands, and people need guarantees, too.
I am thrilled to represent a city with a record as impressive as the one I have set out. I cannot wait to see the future developments in which Coventry will lead. I hope that the Minister will tell us the Government’s plans to help to protect the automotive industry and the jobs that it supports and to ensure that the sector thrives, in Coventry and more widely in the UK.