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Mr. Hain: It is outrageous that my hon. Friend's points should have been ignored. He has raised an important issue which, as I said earlier, Ministers are looking into. Extra business has not been announced for the week after Monday 11 April because it is normal practice, when there is a recess, simply to announce business for one full week and for the following Monday on a provisional basis.
Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab):
Further to the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mark Tami), in the nine years in which I served on the Information Committee, all key changes to the provision of services for Members and the development of the network in the House became subjects for our reports, which were laid
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before the House. Has there been a change in that practice, and if not, can we insist that PCD does not go ahead with any procurement until such a report has been laid before the House?
Mr. Hain: I have received conflicting advice and information on the subject. I am advised that the issue has been discussed by the Information Committee and by the Speaker's advisory panel. On the other hand, it is clear from my hon. Friends' questions that there is still considerable concern about it. It is such an important matter that we would benefit from a little further consultation so that everyone can be satisfied that the right decision has been made.
Mr. Tony Banks (West Ham) (Lab): When we return from the Easter recess, would my right hon. Friend organise a short debate on the problems facing English football? I draw his attention my early-day motion 914 on the need to protect referees:
[That this House notes with regret and concern the growing tendency for football players to seek to intimidate and influence the decision-making of match officials during the course of a game; and calls upon the English football authorities to punish most severely any player who verbally or physically abuses the match referee or his or her assistants.]
I also draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 956 on the extraordinary attacks by UEFA, the European football governing body, on Chelsea coach José Mourinho. Whether or not we have a debate, will he make sure that the business on 6 April is as light as possible so that he can go to Stamford Bridge with me to watch Chelsea play Bayern Munich?
Mr. Hain: I would love to have the opportunity to watch Chelsea secure another fine victory over a leading European club, but whether that is possible depends on my right hon. and hon. Friends. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Whip is discouraging me, but I will talk to him with my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks). As for the UEFA attack, I would call it a full frontal assault on José Mourinho. I find it extraordinary. The football authorities ought to conduct themselves with a little more dignity in these matters. When I look at the politics around international football, the politics around Government seems positively sombre and boring by comparison.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. During the proceedings on the urgent question, before you were in the Chair, there was an exchange when the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) contradicted the Foreign Secretary very firmly from a sedentary position, stating that despite what he had said, there had been no opportunity at the Cabinet meeting for members of the Cabinet to question the Attorney-General on the legal advice that was given. Can you tell me whether Mr. Speaker has received any notification from the Foreign Secretary that he wishes to come to the Chamber to correct the record, in the light of that straight contradiction of what he told the House?
Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I am fairly confident that Mr. Speaker has not received such a request. The point raised by the hon. Gentleman is a point for debate, rather than a point of order for the Chair.
Mr. Frank Field, supported by Kate Hoey, Calum Macdonald, Tony Wright and Mr. Wyatt presented a Bill to make provision in connection with antisocial behaviour: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 13 May, and to be printed. [Bill 99].
Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab): Last week the Upper Waiting Hall hosted an exhibition of manufacturing in north Wales in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane). I hosted an exhibition some weeks earlier highlighting the importance of the aerospace industry in north Wales. Both exhibitions showed the strength and growth of manufacturing in the area and, importantly, that industry was innovative and planning for the future. The challenge for us as politicians and Government is how we build on that success and ensure that business and industry are there for many years to come, and that we attract new companies, particularly supply companies, to the area.
Just over 20 years ago, my area suffered the largest job losses ever experienced at a single plant in a single day, when more than 8,000 people lost their jobs at Shotton steel worksan event we never want to experience again. But Shotton steel works, now Corus, has survived, and I am pleased to say that it is investing again in the future. I am particularly impressed with the development of Living Solutions, a modular construction that can provide housing units quickly and effectively. I know that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is considering that for public sector workers experiencing housing difficulties, especially in the south-east. Recent reports have highlighted the sub-standard accommodation that our armed forces are obliged to endure. I urge both my right hon. Friends, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence, to move the projects forward as quickly as possible.
I am privileged to represent an area that includes the jewel of British manufacturingthe Airbus plant at Broughton. It is the global wing centre of excellence, which builds the wings for all Airbus aircraft, and it fulfils one of the stated aims of the UK to attract the most innovative, high-tech and valued added parts of industry. The Broughton site has almost 7,000 employees and supports 19,000 jobs through the Welsh supply chain and in the local economy from induced employment.
Recent attention has understandably focused on the launch of the A380, the largest passenger airliner in the world. The first flight is expected in April this year, and the first commercial flight will be to Singapore from Heathrow. Special thanks are due to BAA for the work that it has done to adapt Heathrow airport for this new large aircraft.
The positive economic impact that the project has had on the UK economy is to be commended. Work valued at £7.5 billion has already been placed in the UK, and over the life of the programme that is set to double, to well in excess of £15 billion. In addition, the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines are set to generate work to the value of £11 billion over the life of the programme. More than 400 companies throughout the UK are contributing to the A380 programme, and the entire project is estimated to have created 84,000 jobs, direct and indirect.
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The long-term outlook for Airbus is positive, as products last for over 40 years on average, which is good for job security. The company contributes more than £1 billion per annum to the UK trade balance each year, and with the A380 that is set to rise to more than £1.5 billion. Airbus UK has Investors in People status and is committed to developing a well trained and supported work force. The training programmes that it offers include adult skills training initiatives, young people development, and employee training and development, and the company has training partnerships at its sites.
With around 500 apprentices overall at Airbus UK, the Broughton site is believed to have the largest apprentice training programme at one site in the UK, with nearly 400 apprentices in training and annual intakes of up to 100 people. In addition, a direct entry graduate scheme is in operation and around 100 DEGs are undergoing training and development across the two sites. All this has been possible thanks to the positive contribution of the work force and their trade union representatives. They have responded to the new challenges and enhanced the partnership approach. I take this opportunity to pay particular tribute to Robert Dowie and the other convenors and shop stewards at the site.
It is vital that the UK, and especially Wales, continue to invest in the future. The A380 was a watershed. It has been said that it is second only to the space shuttle in terms of the new technology and engineering included in the product. It is certainly one of the most ambitious aerospace projects in recent years. Airbus is now considering investments for its newest product, the A350. Decisions on work-sharing activities and locations for this commercial aircraft for years to come will be taken in the near future.
It is well known that other Airbus countriesGermany and Spainare keen to see this quality work brought to their sites. Brian Fleet, plant director at Broughton, is leading a project team putting together its business case to Airbus, and it is clearly vital that the UK provide support for that. It is worth remembering the statement made by the Chancellor during the Budget address last week, when he said:
EU/US trade discussions about large civil aircraft put a particular complexion on the issue. I do not propose to go into the intricacies of that debate, which is being led by the European Commission on behalf of the member states. I wish Peter Mandelson all the best in these difficult and complex discussions. The most important point in the debate is that European support is not given up as a result of US sabre rattling. Repayable launch investment has been a very effective mechanism for supporting Welsh jobs and a good investment for the British taxpayer. The money has been repaid with interest, and royalty payments are made on every aircraft that is sold.
It is well known that Boeing has received huge support through tax breaks from Washington state. NASA has funded huge amounts of technology and
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research, the results of which have been passed over to the Boeing engineers. Recently, the Japanese Government provided launch aid for the latest product, the 7E7. The Americans just do not like competition, especially when that competition offers a better product to the customer. Is it any wonder that it is now, when they have fully funded the 7E7 research, that they cry foul? As Corporal Jones in "Dad's Army" would say, "They don't like it up 'em."
Airbus UK has the leading role globally in wing design, technology and manufacturing, but the current leadership is based on "metallic" wing solutions. The future for Airbus and for all aircraft manufacturers is in composites. They have been used for many years in items such as tennis rackets and for marine technology. Their use is predicted to grow rapidly in the coming years in many engineering applications across a wide variety of industries. The weight saving made possible by the use of composites gives major benefits in aircraft design and helps to reduce environmental impact by increasing efficiency through lower fuel usage and the ability to fly further, or to carry a greater payload for the same amount of fuel.
The situation faced by Airbus UK is that capabilities in composite design and technology have been built up over the years by the French and German sites, mainly because composites are used in other parts of the aircraft structure. I am pleased to say that this Labour Government are well aware of the importance of composite technology, and that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and the Regions opened an advanced materials research centre at Airbus in Bristol just last month. Government investment of £5 million was provided for that regional centre, and it is worth noting that an engineering centre for manufacturing and materials was opened in 2003 in Port Talbot. That was one of the first parts of the national composite network established by the Government.
The A350 will be the first Airbus civil product with the wing primary structure made largely from composite materials. In order for Airbus UK to win that vital wing business, there will need to be considerable investment in new engineering and manufacturing facilities, in work force training and in composite processes.
That is why UK repayable launch investment is so important and will play a key role in securing the requisite UK work share in that vital project. I am sure that our European partners will deliver that support. We need to show the same level of commitment.
The Government have demonstrated their support for Airbus in the past. I urge that we do so again. It would help to secure the future for many tens of thousands of British workers, providing quality and secure employment not just for today but for many years to come.
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