HC Deb 10 December 2003 vol 415 cc1042-3
2. Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab)

What recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary regarding the importance of the aerospace industry to the economy of Wales. [142070]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I hold regular discussions with colleagues in the Assembly on a range of issues, including the aerospace industry in Wales.

The Government recognise the value of the aerospace industry to the Welsh economy. With significantly high levels of investment, we are seeing a new age of assertiveness, development and innovation that is increasingly taking the industry to new levels of success.

Mark Tami

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. I am sure that he recognises the success and importance of Airbus at Broughton, so will he help to build on that success by using the short delay on the future air tanker, which the Ministry of Defence is expected to announce, further to press the case for the Airbus-AirTanker project that will help to secure many thousands of jobs in Wales?

Mr. Touhig

I am aware of my hon. friend's strong commitment to Airbus and to the work at Broughton in north-east Wales. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have already visited that world-class facility several times. I certainly join my hon. Friend in welcoming the strong Airbus bid for the MOD contract to provide air-to-air refuelling aircraft, and I hope that it is successful. It will underpin our commitment to the continuing development of that important manufacturing industry in north-east Wales.

Mr. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater) (Con)

Given the importance of the aerospace industry not only in Wales but throughout the United Kingdom, there is no doubt that it must not go overseas. Airbus Industries has made a long-term commitment in this country, so will the Minister guarantee, on behalf of the British people and especially the Welsh, to press his right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister to ensure that no aerospace jobs are moved overseas?

Mr. Touhig

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman need have any worries about the efforts made by me, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State or any of my colleagues, as we shall be exerting all the pressure that we possibly can to ensure that the industry in north-east Wales goes from strength to strength. Much public investment has already gone in: £500 million for the Airbus project at Broughton and £77 million for the Red Dragon project at the Defence Aviation Repair Agency in St. Athan. The Government are committed to that development. That important manufacturing base in Wales has a strong future and we want it to succeed.

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