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Volume 586: debated on Wednesday 22 October 2014

Under the previous Labour Government, 83,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Wales. Our long-term economic plan has made a good start in reversing this decline, with 12,000 manufacturing jobs created since the election. I was delighted recently to visit ConvaTec and Toyota in north Wales to see for myself how two global manufacturers really value Wales as a great place to come and do business in.

I welcome my right hon. Friend to his post, and I congratulate him and the Government on the success of the NATO summit this summer. In recent weeks, Airbus has announced a $26 billion deal for 250 new aircraft with India’s largest airline, IndiGo, and a deal for 70 aircraft with a Chinese leasing company. The fact that all those aircraft will have wings built in Deeside in north Wales will generate thousands of jobs, including many hundreds in my constituency of Chester. Will he join me in congratulating the company and its employees?

One of my early visits as Secretary of State was to Airbus in Broughton, where I saw for myself just what a fantastic plant that factory is. I spoke to senior management there, but not just that: I got a chance to meet the apprentices and see for myself just what a contribution they are making to Airbus’s success at this time.

The Secretary of State will know that General Dynamics in my constituency recently signed a contract for the Scout specialist vehicle platforms. Will he now pay tribute to the previous Labour Government, who were instrumental in bringing General Dynamics to Oakdale, creating hundreds of high-tech, high-spec jobs?

General Dynamics is another superb Wales-based company that I have had the pleasure and privilege of visiting in recent weeks. I am very happy to join the hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to whoever was responsible for securing the inward investment.

When Robin Southwell, the chief executive of EADS, which owns Airbus, addressed the Labour party conference this year, he stressed the importance, from Airbus’s point of view, of Britain remaining a member of the European Union. Does the Secretary of State agree on the importance of that, or does he know better?

Being part of Europe is important for Wales-based manufacturers—there is no question about that—but when I talk to businesses all across Wales, they also tell me that our current membership of the European Union imposes burdens and costs. That is why they support the Prime Minister’s strategy to renegotiate our membership with the European Union and get a better deal for Welsh and UK business.