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De Lorean Motor Company Limited

Volume 978: debated on Thursday 7 February 1980

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement with regard to the progress of the De Lorean Motor Company.

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a progress report on the De Lorean project.

Construction of the assembly building is almost complete and the other buildings are well advanced. The number on the payroll is approximately 250. Pilot production is expected to start in the second quarter of this year.

No doubt the project is up to date. Can the Minister say anything about the EEC contribution to it and what can be expected in terms of further work and any spin-offs that might flow from this?

The project has now been brought up to date. There was some slippage in construction, but that has now been rectified. As far as the EEC subvention is concerned, £7½ million has been put into the De Lorean project, and this will abate the liability for public sector payment. The first indication of spin-off is the establishment of the Chamberlain Phipps trim plant in West Belfast, where 450 jobs could well be created.

As there is substantial over-capacity in the vehicle industry, both in the United Kingdom and worldwide, who is expected to buy these cars, and in substitution for what?

The car is primarily for markets in the United States, and it is my expectation that the sales—two years' production has already been sold into the trade—will largely be there. There will be competition, but I am confident that the car will meet it.

Does the Under-Secretary of State recall that when the De Lorean project was announced it was welcomed by thousands of people who had been on the unemployment register for years in West Belfast? They believed that they would be given sufficient skills and be trained by the Department to enable them to take up employment with De Lorean. Can the Minister say how many people have been trained and can expect to be given jobs in the De Lorean project?

As I have said, 250 employees have so far been recruited largely on the management side. Let me assure the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) that adequate training facilities will be available. I shall look into any difficulties which he cares to bring to my attention.

Will the Minister confirm that the De Lorean company has made an application for another £5 million from NIDA?