Skip to main content

Aluminium Production

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2009

2. What recent discussions he has had with (a) ministerial colleagues and (b) the Welsh Assembly Government on aluminium production in Wales. (285607)

At least the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) was not Twittering in the House.

I commend my hon. Friend on his tireless efforts on behalf of the workers of Anglesey Aluminium. As he knows, I have had regular discussions about the future of the company with colleagues in Government and the First Minister, as well as with Rio Tinto and the unions.

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply and for his efforts, as well as those of UK Government Departments and the First Minister on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Does he agree that although these are very difficult times, the parent companies of Anglesey Aluminium in my constituency, Rio Tinto and Kaiser Aluminium have a moral and social obligation to accept the generous offer that the Government have made—nearly £50 million—to assist them through this difficult period so that they can continue to commit to the work force and the local economy for the next 30 years, as they have indicated?

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. We have put nearly £50 million on the table as a result of cross-Government collaboration, including with the Welsh Assembly Government, and that should be taken up by Rio Tinto and Anglesey Aluminium. Many businesses would give their right arm for that kind of support. Anglesey Aluminium and its parent companies have benefited from decades of loyal work on the island, and I hope that these companies will think again. Meanwhile, we are exploring all options to try to secure employment in that factory.

No one will underestimate the importance of aluminium smelting to the island of Anglesey, but other smaller companies throughout Wales, such as Kaye in Presteigne in my constituency, which is involved in aluminium casting producing components for the automotive industry, have been badly affected by the recession. The scrappage scheme introduced on the continent has been very successful, and Kaye has benefited from that because it exports most of its production. However, the scrappage scheme in this country has not been so successful, and it is due to end in March 2010. Will the Secretary of State make representations to the Treasury and to his colleagues in Cabinet to ensure that the scrappage scheme is extended and enhanced to increase car sales throughout the UK and to allow companies such as Kaye to see a way through the recession?

We will certainly look at the hon. Gentleman’s request and bear it in mind, because the company is an important local employer. However, the truth is that the car scrappage scheme has had a big effect on new orders for cars. The de-stocking has ended and a lot of car plants are now starting to produce again, and it is partly because of the Government’s action that that has happened.