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Auto Windscreens

Volume 523: debated on Tuesday 15 February 2011

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

I rise to propose that the House should discuss a specific and important matter that I believe should have urgent consideration—the decision of Auto Windscreens to go into administration yesterday, with the possible loss of 1,100 jobs.

Auto Windscreens employs about 400 people in my constituency, in head office, call centre and manufacturing functions. The loss of those jobs would be catastrophic to an area that is already set to be the worst hit in Derbyshire by the cuts in public sector jobs. Staff were sent home yesterday, and as of today there is no money to pay them for the 14 days’ work that they have done this month, nor for their ongoing employment. However, in an effort to sell the business as a going concern, the administrator, Deloitte, has not yet made staff redundant, so they are effectively in limbo. The company is unable to trade, which will make it more difficult for it to be sold. Time is very much of the essence.

I would like to debate what action the Government can take to support Deloitte to get Auto Windscreens trading again. With every passing day that it is not trading, the task of finding a buyer becomes more difficult and the challenge of turning the business round grows. I would like to debate what action the Government can take to support finding buyers; to help them access the funding required to get the business back on a stable footing; and to support either the moribund regional development agency, which would previously have been expected to co-ordinate the response, or the fledgling Sheffield city region local enterprise partnership, to undertake that co-ordination.

I would also like to debate whether, in the absence of Auto Windscreens, Autoglass, the UK market leader, would have an effective monopoly, and the impact on pricing and, by extension, insurance premiums. I would further like to debate what action the Government can take, in the event of the company failing to be salvaged, to assist the 1,100 employees to find work, and to find out whether discussions have taken place with the trade union to explore the possibility of some sort of employee or management buy-out.

Auto Windscreens is an important employer in my constituency, an important contributor to the UK economy, an important part of the UK automotive industry, an important supplier to the motor insurance industry, and an important component of any private sector-led recovery.

At times like this, it is vital that the employees affected, and people throughout Britain, can see politicians working together swiftly to save those jobs in the national interest. I hope that we can debate in the Chamber what can be done, or that the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk) will agree to meet me, the administrators and any other people who can help get Auto Windscreens trading again and save those 1,100 jobs, which we can all ill afford to lose.

I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman, and I have to give my decision without stating any reasons. I am afraid that I do not consider that the matter that he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 24, and I cannot therefore submit the application to the House.