6 February 2001

Alison Halford (Delyn):

In his role as policy co-ordinator for Wales, what steps is he taking to encourage greater community involvement and consultation in government inward investment programmes. (OAQ 9345)

The First Minister:

It is easier to do that in inward investment programmes. As a result of the commercially confidential nature of negotiations that might occur with companies, it is not always possible to involve the community before companies commit inward investment to Wales. I am pleased that we have had a great deal of such investment in north-east Wales, such as the announcement of additional jobs in the Toyota engine plant in order to increase production. Other investments include Paramount Foods, Dailyce Chestergate, Mainetti UK Limited, Deeside Industrial Park and General Domestic Appliances Limited near Alison’s constituency. However, there has not been a great deal of community involvement because of the commercial confidentiality of the investment.

Alison Halford:

Will the First Minister join me in welcoming the recent announcement by Ford and Vauxhall’s proposals for Ellesmere Port? It illustrates what can be gained through inclusiveness and community consultation. Is it not regrettable that such practices were not followed by Corus in Shotton?

The First Minister:

I agree. Let us set aside Corus and look at what has happened recently in motor manufacturing. Yesterday’s decision by Ford in Wales involved £240 million of investment and more than 600 well-paid, highly-skilled jobs. Undoubtedly there is an impact on north Wales, not only from Toyota’s decision—which is actually located in the north—but also Vauxhall’s decision at Ellesmere Port, because many people in north-east Wales work there. That is also the customer base for Corus. Corus has said that it is only interested in the financial community and the stock exchange and that it does not want to consult with the trade unions or local authorities. However, Ford consulted closely with the appropriate trade unions and local authorities in the State of Ohio, where jobs were being lost on the B6 contract for the Jaguar, as well as in Wales where we will gain 600 jobs. That is a lesson for Corus on how this should be done.

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