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Mr. Cameron: How does the Secretary of State define Mr. Mittal's steel company? Is it a British company, a British-based company, a company with British connections or none of the above?
Mr. Murphy: I think I understand what "phone a friend" means. I will come to the thrust of my argument in a moment, but first I shall touch on what the hon. Gentleman says. Of course the company has a British base, a headquarters in London and employs people in Britain. The Prime Minister wrote to the Romanian Prime Minister some days before the signing ceremonybut after a decision on the Sidex plant had been taken. If the Romanian economy prospers, develops and becomes part of an enlarged EuropeI will come to the European loan in a momentcompanies in Great Britain and Wales will benefit.
Mr. Andrew MacKay (Bracknell): I have the highest regard for the Secretary of State, so I am sorry that he is the fall-guy who has to open the debate; there are others who should be at the Dispatch Box instead.
It is widely believed outside the House and on the Opposition Benches that the Prime Minister intervened only because of Mr. Mittal's very large donation to the Labour party. To prove me wrong, would the Secretary of State be good enough to consult the fat red file in front of him and tell us which, and how many, other companies with small interests in our countrylike Mittal'sthe Prime Minister has made representations about to the leaders of other countries?
Mr. Murphy: I completely reject the accusation that the letter had anything whatever to do with a donation to the Labour party. The Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear from this Dispatch Box[Interruption.] He said what he said because it is true that the donation was in no way linked to the letter to Romanian Prime Minister. I shall come to what the letter was about in a
Mr. Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks): Is the Secretary of State seriously suggesting that neither the Prime Minister nor any Government Department was aware that Mr. Mittal was a donor to the Labour party?
Mr. Murphy: I am certainly telling the House that the donation had absolutely nothing to do with the letter. [Hon. Members: "Ah!"] Of course I am saying that.
Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington): It is with some trepidation that I intervene in what is essentially a Welsh debate. I have listened with great care to my right hon. Friend's remarks. The whole House will agree that it is in the long-term interests of the rest of Europe that the Romanian economy and steel industry be restructured, but in the short term Mr. Mittal's interests clearly run contrary to those of the British steel industry. It remains a conundrum to many people inside and outside the House that the Prime Minister should sign that letter, as in the short term he has signed up to interests contrary to those of the British steel industry.
Mr. Murphy: I shall come to that point in a moment, but first I propose to address the relationship between the British steel industryparticularly in Walesthe letter and the development of the Romanian economy. That is why I am here. I am here at the Dispatch Box, not because I am a fall-guy, but because I am interestedas I am sure are all those who represent Welsh constituenciesin the development of the Welsh economy, including the Welsh steel industry. There are not many Opposition Members who represent as many steelworkers as I do. I represent a steel constituency and I know about the position of the steel industry.
Mr. Murphy: I wish to continue the thrust of my argument, which I have only just started.
Mr. MacKay: In the heat of the debate, the Secretary of State inadvertently failed to answer my principal question, but I am sure he will wish to do so before he moves on. How many other small companies has the Prime Minister made representations about to other heads of state, and who are they?
Mr. Murphy: I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman about correspondence between Prime Ministers, which is governed by international convention and commercial confidentiality. When his Government were in power, they did exactly the same for company after company. There was a time, when I was a younger man, when I could not go into a high street and buy produce that did not come from a firm that gave money to the Conservative party. However, I am also sure that both Labour and Conservative Governments helped those companies, to the benefit of the British economy.
Mrs. Jackie Lawrence (Preseli Pembrokeshire): I am amused by some elements of the exchange that has just taken place. Will my right hon. Friend remind the House
Mr. Murphy: The irony is that the debate would not be taking place if it had not been for legislation introduced by this Labour Government. That is the reality.
Mr. Murphy: I must move on; otherwise, other hon. Members will not have an opportunity to make their contributions.
During last week's Welsh affairs debate, the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) said that
In a written answer recently, the Prime Minister said:
Mr. Simon Thomas: The Secretary of State's central point is that the privatisation of the Romanian steel industry was of benefit to a British company. The letter written by the Prime Minister to the Romanian Prime Minister clearly stated:
Mr. Murphy: Of course it does not. The hon. Gentleman omitted to quote from the beginning of the letter, which said:
Mr. Murphy: No, I shall not give way.
Mr. Simon Thomas: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My copy of the letter that I prayed in aid and which the Secretary of State relied on comes from www.guv.ro, which is the Romanian website, as the Government refused to give it in answer to a parliamentary question from my hon. Friend the Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price). Hon. Members may not have a copy of the letter. Will you ensure, Mr. Speaker, that a copy is placed in the Library?
Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order.