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Volume 12: debated on Monday 9 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied that British manufacturers of motor car components will not be disadvantaged by arrangements with Nissan, relating to the United Kingdom content of cars built by Nissan in Great Britain.

Yes. I am confident that, if it goes ahead, the project will offer a valuable new outlet for United Kingdom component manufacturers if they are competitive.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the largest employer in my constituency is pernaps less satisfied than he is? The firm is concerned to know the percentage of the United Kingdom content. It also feels that it has a right to know how that percentage is to be judged—whether by weight, value or volume—and how it is to be monitored to ensure that those who make the agreement keep it. Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that those legitimate matters of public interest should not be shielded behind so-called commercial confidentiality?

My hon. Friend wrote to me on this matter. He is right to say that, whether the United Kingdom content is calculated by weight, value or volume, it is extremely important and affects the eventual result. I have explained to him that this is a matter of negotiation. Obviously, we have to take cognisance of the fact that the Nissan company has said that it wishes these negotiations to remain confidential. The House will, of course, expect not only a statement, but a demonstration that the assurances obtained by the Government are copper-bottomed.

Is the Minister able to give any further hard information to those of us who represent large numbers of unemployed workers in the regions about where and when Nissan might locate its factory in Britain? Does the Minister realise that in the town of Flint male unemployment now stands at nearly 40 per cent? Can he give my constituents any hope that Nissan might be located on the banks of the River Dee?

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman any concrete information. Clearly, this is a matter for Nissan. The whole project is still the subject of discussions between the company and the Government. I shall make sure that what the hon. Gentleman said today is taken into account.

What effect is the Labour Party's proposal to withdraw this country from the Community having on this proposal?

The Labour Party's proposals are against the project and will endanger it. I hope that the Labour Party will take account of that fact.

Will my hon. Friend look carefully at the advice that he receives in his Department about what constitutes a component? In doing so, will he bear in mind the real danger that unless satisfactory arrangements are reached, other British manufacturers may be forced to look to sources outside this country?

My hon. Friend is right. This point was also made by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley). We are aware of this matter. We hope that the project will come to the United Kingdom, but we want it to do so in a way that will maximise the advantage to this country.