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De Lorean Cars Limited

Volume 984: debated on Thursday 8 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the application for financial aid by De Lorean Cars Ltd.

I have at present nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 3 April 1980.

Does the Minister accept that we wish to see viable jobs in West Belfast? Will he also accept that a massive chunk of money has been poured into De Lorean Cars but that the taxpayer, having financed the development of the wonder car, does not own it? The rights are in the De Lorean partnership. Will the Minister make it a condition of any further financial assistance—if the car is so marvellous—that we should own it? Will the Minister confirm that no money is being siphoned off, directly or indirectly, into the associated concern CP Trim Limited? I wonder why the Minister refuses to answer questions about that firm?

As the House knows from answers to previous questions on this subject, the De Lorean company is funded in a complicated way, significantly if not exclusively, by the taxpayer through the agency of, as well as directly through, Government grant. I answer the hon. Gentleman by saying that I shall ensure that there will be the fullest possible examination of the application. The CP Trim company has come to West Belfast because of the De Lorean project and will provide additional jobs in an area where we desperately need them.

Will my hon. Friend say whether the DMC 12 is on target in its timetable? Can he say when he expects the first cars to come off the production line?

I am informed that the car is indeed on its production timetable and we expect limited production to start shortly after the summer. The intention is that the car will be launched in the autumn at the United States Motor Show.

Does the Minister accept that the ravages of inflation are hitting De Lorean severely and that it would appear that its request for additional funds is reasonable in the circumstances and in line with the criteria of the original agreement?

We urge the Government to make an early decision on payment. Will the Minister consider inviting the hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) and my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) to visit De Lorean and see the success that it is making of this project?

The hon. Gentleman is correct. The ravages of inflation have affected the forecasts which were made— somewhat speedily—by the previous Administration. It is my duty to see That the ravages of inflation, which afflict every company in Northern Ireland, do not lead to an unduly early decision on additional funding. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the greatest possible scrutiny will be applied to this application and that the agreement, while allowing an application, does not commit the Government to meeting it.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) referred to my position on this matter, I should like to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter again in the House at the earliest possible opportunity.