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EU Single Market: Jobs

Volume 620: debated on Wednesday 25 January 2017

6. What assessment he has made of the potential effect on jobs in Wales of the UK leaving the EU single market. (908309)

7. What assessment he has made of the potential effect on jobs in Wales of the UK leaving the EU single market. (908310)

9. What assessment he has made of the potential effect on jobs in Wales of the UK leaving the EU single market. (908312)

Since the vote to leave the EU, we have seen employment hit record highs, and there are now 4,000 fewer people unemployed than six months ago. Trade with the EU is important to Wales, but it is clear that we need to increase our trade with the fastest-growing markets across the world. It is time for Wales, like Britain, to rediscover its role as a great global trading nation.

I hope the whole Chamber will celebrate Robert Burns today.

This week, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government published a White Paper outlining their concerns about Wales and our leaving the EU. What actions will the UK Government take to address the concerns raised by the two largest parties in the Welsh Parliament?

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was awaiting the document from the Welsh Government. It was received on Monday, and of course we will work through the details. It will be subject to discussion at the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations—the right place for it to be considered and discussed—but much of the language around accessing the single market is not incompatible with what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said.

The Supreme Court ruling yesterday concluded that the Sewel convention was a convention and therefore not a matter on which it could rule. Our friends in Plaid Cymru are moving to table a legislative consent motion in the Welsh Parliament, and the Scottish Parliament will also vote on a legislative consent motion. Does the Secretary of State agree, in the spirit of democracy, that the devolved Governments are best placed to determine the future of the people living and working in our nations? [Interruption.]

It is a matter for the devolved Administrations whether they choose to table legislative consent motions, and yesterday’s judgment was quite clear. The approach of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the whole Government is to engage positively with the devolved Administrations—the Scottish Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Welsh Government—but we will also want to engage with other stakeholders in the nations as well.

North Wales has been designated the central maintenance centre for all European F-35 fighters. Can the Minister assure the House that the aerospace companies in north Wales will be given the same assurances as Nissan that leaving the single market will not result in tariff barriers or a loss of access to European skilled labour?

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman highlights the success of Sealand in winning the F-35 contract. It will be the global repair hub. I was there on Monday celebrating and recognising the effects and the impact that employees had on winning that global contract. The significance should not be understated. It offers positive prospects for the supply chain and that centre for decades to come.

The Prime Minister has talked of a bold new trading relationship with New Zealand. Will the Secretary of State relay to the Prime Minister—she is here, so he can do so directly—the genuine concern of many Welsh upland farmers that they could lose access to the biggest market on the continent in favour of a market, and direct competitor, on the other side of the world?

Welsh produce, and Welsh lamb and beef in particular, is world leading, and there are great opportunities as we exit the European Union to explore and exploit new markets. Hybu Cig Cymru specifically recognised that £20 million could be brought to Wales from accessing the north American market. These are the ambitions that we want to have, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will of course put Britain first in any negotiations.

I am not seeking a running commentary or any detailed negotiating information, but a special deal was cut for the car industry in the north-east. Did the Secretary of State seek a similar deal for the car industry in Wales?

I do not recognise the basis of the question. The automotive sector is exceptionally strong in Wales, partly as a result of the Nissan contract in Sunderland, for which many of the supplier companies are based in Wales. I also draw attention to the great success of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence in bringing Aston Martin to Wales. We should recognise and celebrate the fantastic success on that MOD base.

Up to 200,000 jobs in Wales depend on our membership of the European Union, the single market and the customs union. I am not going to go through every sector, but will the Secretary of State seek sectoral deals for important parts of the Welsh economy as we leave the European Union?

It is clear that we want to get the best deal for the whole of the United Kingdom. We want to ensure that the market within the United Kingdom works effectively. After all, the most important market for Wales is the market from within the United Kingdom. The hon. Gentleman can take confidence from the fact that, on the back of this Government’s policy and success, Wales has been the fastest growing economy outside London since 2010.

Order. Colleagues, we are visited today by Speaker Win Myint, the Speaker of the Hluttaw, the Burmese Parliament. He is accompanied by a delegation of his parliamentary colleagues. I am sure the House will wish to join me in welcoming Mr Speaker and his colleagues.