Kwasi Kwarteng – 2021 Statement on Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port

The statement made by Kwasi Kwarteng, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the House of Commons on 1 March 2021.

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for the great work he did as Secretary of State. He was the first Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and I think that we can all say that we appreciate the outstanding work he did at that time.

The Government are absolutely committed to ensuring the future of manufacturing at Ellesmere Port and to secure the jobs and livelihoods of the workers at the plant. Since I was appointed Business Secretary last month, I have held a number of meetings with both Vauxhall and its new parent company, Stellantis, to support the company to make a positive investment decision. Only last week, I also held a constructive meeting with the general secretary of Unite, Mr Len McCluskey. Over the coming days and weeks, I, fellow Ministers and officials at BEIS will continue this intensive dialogue with the company.

More widely, the Government are continuing their long-standing programme of support to keep the British automotive sector at the forefront of technology and maintain its competitiveness, building on the work that my right hon. Friend did through the automotive sector deal.

It is my priority as Business Secretary to ensure that the UK continues to enjoy the benefits from our transition to ultra low and zero emission vehicles by continuing to build an agile, innovative and cost-competitive supply chain, which we need to secure vital international investment. With that in mind, we remain dedicated and absolutely committed to securing UK battery manufacturing. As part of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan, we have already announced £500 million to support the electrification of vehicles and their supply chains, and other strategically important technologies, through the automotive transformation fund over the next four years. We continue to work with investors through the automotive transformation fund, and to progress plans for manufacturing the batteries that we will need for the next generation of electric vehicles here in the UK.

The Government and industry have jointly committed almost £1.5 billion through the Advanced Propulsion Centre and Faraday battery challenge to support the research, development and manufacture of zero and low emission technologies. Between 2013 and 2020, the Advanced Propulsion Centre has funded 67 collaborative R&D projects, creating and safeguarding nearly 47,000 jobs, with projected COsavings of 244 million tonnes.

I repeat: we are 100% committed to making sure that the UK continues to be one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing, and we are doing all we can to protect and create jobs while securing a competitive future for the sector here in the UK in particular, including at Ellesmere Port.