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Automotive Sector

Volume 637: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2018

The Government’s long-term partnership with the automotive industry is an exemplar of our industrial strategy. Only a fortnight ago, I went to Derbyshire to welcome Toyota’s decision to build the new Auris in Burnaston, helping to secure 3,000 jobs between Burnaston and Deeside in north Wales.

I am sure that, while welcoming that investment, the Secretary of State will have been alarmed by the comments made by the chief executive of the PSA Group, which owns Vauxhall in my constituency, about the lack of certainty, with Brexit affecting investment decisions. Will the Secretary of State meet the PSA Group and me to give us confidence in terms of investment in the future of that plant?

I regularly meet with chief executives of car companies, including Mr Tavares. It is very clear that we are determined, as the Prime Minister set out in her Mansion House speech, to make sure that this very important integrated supply chain is able to continue to operate. It is worth bearing in mind that since my team have been in the Department every single major new model decision has gone our way. I am determined to keep up that advocacy.

The automotive sector is crucial to UK industry. It employs 814,000 people and we are all proud of British car manufacturers, including the iconic Rolls-Royce and Jaguar. In recent weeks, however, President Trump has revealed an appetite for a trade war that began with the announcement of steel tariffs and now includes threats to put tariffs on EU cars, which could hit our industry hard. Will the Secretary of State tell this House what he is doing to avoid a trade war with the US? Should such tariffs come into play, what will he do to protect our steel and automotive sector?

I am sure the hon. Lady was in her place yesterday when the Trade Secretary gave a very comprehensive statement. There was some welcome for the cross-party approach that went into defending the international system of free trade. It does no one any good if we have tariffs in place that impede trade. Her endorsement of the approach being taken by the Trade Secretary would be welcome.