Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, attacked the government for lack of contingency planning to avert or prepare for the closure of Luton. Questioning the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in Parliament today, he said:
“Hundreds of my constituents who are employed by Vauxhall and its suppliers were shocked by this body blow.
“But their shock was compounded by the fact that ? despite rumblings in the past about this possibility ? the government was apparently caught unawares by the company?s decision.
“Is the Secretary of State aware of the system I set up when I held his job for contingency planning to prepare for and if possible avert problems of this kind?
“Will he tell the House what planning he undertook and what meetings to avert this crisis he held with General Motors and when?
“If the decision is now irreversible what plans has he to speed up planning procedures on the land around the plant to attract new job creating businesses as soon as possible??
Following the exchange, Peter Lilley said, “I am glad the Minister welcomed my proposal on planning procedures. The top priority is creating new jobs for the highly skilled and motivated people who are losing their current jobs.
“It is clear from the fact that he refused to answer my question that the Minister had not had any prior discussions with Vauxhall to avert this decision. Nor had he done any contingency planning specifically for the possible closure of Luton or he would have realised that planning was a key issue. The measures he announced ?within five minutes of the Luton decision? do not indicate any specific contingency planning since they were simply the standard package for any large closure.?