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UK Automotive Industry: Job Losses — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:34 am on 22nd May 2018.

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Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Industries for the future) 10:34 am, 22nd May 2018

It is good, as always, to see you in the Chair, Mr Bone. I congratulate Matt Western on securing the debate. Critically, he highlighted the supply chain, which goes beyond the idea of the automotive industry and reaches every part of the industrial complex across the UK.

Jim Shannon, who is no longer in their place, mentioned the issues for Northern Ireland. In Scotland in 2016, there were 4,000 employees in the industry, representing 2% of manufacturing employees in Scotland and 2.5% of all motor vehicle manufacturing employees across the UK. It continues to be an important industry, for not only employment but the economy. The industry has seen a steady increase in output since 2010. In real terms, the motor manufacturing industry was worth 25% more in 2017 than in 2007, although growth appears to have levelled off in the last year.

However, as other Members have highlighted, we need to recognise that the sector is highly integrated with the rest of Europe, in both finished cars and component parts. For instance, the UK imported £13.95 billion-worth of vehicle engines and parts in 2017, 79% of which came from the European Union. From my perspective, if the UK Government continue with their desire to leave the customs union and single market, it will have a detrimental impact on the industry and will cost jobs.

That is why the industry has called for the UK Government to change their approach to Brexit and opt to remain in the single market and customs union, to facilitate trade and investment. I hope that the UK Government listen to those calls and take action to protect the sector’s close integration with the rest of Europe as they negotiate our leaving the European Union.

As the Scottish National party spokesperson for industries of the future, I welcome the Government’s announcement of the automotive sector deal as part of the industrial strategy, as that should boost investment in emerging technology and establish leadership in meeting future mobility and clean growth challenges. However, with countries such as Estonia and Singapore at an advanced stage of preparation, and with investment in infrastructure that will allow them to take advantage of industries of the future, there is a danger that the automotive industry, and many other industries across the UK, are unprepared for the inevitable advancement that will be made.

As the Member for West Dunbartonshire, I know only too well the impact of industrial policy that fails to meet the challenges of the modern age—the complete and utter collapse of the industrial complex. I would not wish that on any other Member. From my perspective, the UK Government must therefore step up and lead on the issues that put thousands of jobs at risk, which would have an immediate impact on local economies and feed into the larger economy.