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Justin Madders MP - Blog - March 2017

Author: Justin Madders MP Published: 10th March 2017 12:08

In his latest blog for AboutMyArea, Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, discusses the Vauxhall sale and the role of the Speaker in the House of Commons.

Justin Madders MPJustin Madders MP, speaking in the House of Commons last
year during a debate on General Motors.

We now know that the Peugeot Group has agreed to buy the European section of General Motors which includes Vauxhall Motors. Vauxhall employs about 35,000 people in the UK, including 4,500 working at its manufacturing plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton, and at its warehouse and head office in Luton. There are just over 2000 people employed directly at the plant in Ellesmere Port plus many more employed in the area in associated businesses.

Whilst there has been a lot of media speculation about the future of the plant and the risk to jobs as a result of this merger, which will no doubt have worried people greatly, we should remember that none of this speculation has been based upon any comments made from the new owners at Peugeot, who have in fact confirmed that existing production runs will be guaranteed. This means jobs are protected until around 2021 when the current Astra model is expected to be replaced. This in reality is little different to the position we would have been in had GM remained as owners but we should not underestimate the challenge we face in securing production of the next model.

On the plus side, there is no doubt that we have some of the most efficient plants in Europe so we are starting from a positive position and we should also not underplay the positive impact on sales that having a UK manufacturing base brings. One of the biggest selling points to UK consumers is that Vauxhall is a British brand that supports British jobs.

Of course this is a worrying time for everyone affected, but it is not a new experience - there have been threats to the plant in the past - but they have always been seen off by the unions, workforce, management and Government working together to ensure the plant remains competitive, with the result that we are lucky to have highly-skilled staff here who are amongst the most efficient anywhere in Europe.

It is also important to remember that General Motors sell many cars in this country that are built elsewhere in Europe, so it remains a hugely important part of their market and it is a big selling point to those customers that they manufacture in this country. So, whilst there is some uncertainty about our future trading relationships as a result of Brexit, it is in nobody's interests to get a final deal that puts barriers in the way of the free trading of vehicles and their components.

I have had numerous conversations with the Business Secretary Greg Clark and he has always sounded positive about the plant's track record and prospects and I have of course taken the opportunity to stress to him at every opportunity the need for Government support if it is required. It is unlikely there will be any significant decisions made in the near future so this does gives us an opportunity to obtain commitments from the Government that, when the new model is up for consideration, they will do whatever it takes to protect British jobs and secure the next generation of vehicles at the plant. There are a number of things they can do to enhance the competitiveness of the Ellesmere Port plant and I anticipate discussions over the coming weeks and months will focus on what they will be able to do in that regard.

Speaker of the House

There has been much controversy recently over the Speaker of the House of Commons decision to say he was not in support of President Trump's proposed visit to Parliament. This has led to accusations that he has broken the rules on impartiality as Speaker and there was talk of a motion of no confidence against him.

The role of Speaker dates back to the start of Parliament itself. As the name suggests, in the early days the Speaker's role was as a spokesman on behalf of the House of Commons in the days when monarchs had rather more say over how the country was run than they do today. Over time the role evolved and the Speaker is now the Chair of proceedings, presiding over the House's debates, and importantly for MPs, determines which members may speak. The Speaker is also responsible for maintaining order during debate, and may punish members who break the rules of the House. The Speaker does not take part in debate,or vote, and is expected to be impartial, renouncing any previous political affiliation. Clearly this is hugely important as a Speaker who is viewed as favouring one political party over another will not retain the confidence of the House.

It is certainly the case that many MPs believe that the Speaker's comments on Trump have crossed a line in terms of his impartiality. Whether he was entitled to say what he did or not, he continues to be impartial when dealing with the domestic political parties. As a new MP he made the effort to make me feel welcome there, handles difficult situations in the chamber with grace and I have never detected for a minute any party political favourtism in the way he deals with all parties in the chamber. I do believe that these efforts to unseat him are motivated by a personal dislike of him by a small number of Conservative MPs who resent the way he respects and recognises the rights of all MPs, from whatever party to have their say. I am pleased to see that this petty move appears to have fizzled out and we can now get back to discussing more important matters.

Justin Madders MP
Ellesmere Port & Neston
Shadow Health Minister

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