HC Deb 27 November 1980 vol 994 cc561-3
12 Mr. Cryer

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the progress of De Lorean Cars Limited.

Mr. Giles Shaw

The buildings required for the company's manufacturing programme have been completed, the company has occupied them and the process of equipping them is well advanced. Four hundred and eighty-eight people are now employed. The pilot production programme is proceeding, and 30 preproduction cars have been completed. Series production will commence before the end of the year and the market launch is expected to take place in the spring of next year.

Mr. Cryer

Was not car production promised last summer? Was not the entire development of the De Lorean car at the expense of the taxpayer? Will the Minister confirm that the ownership of the developed car remains in the hands of the De Lorean research partnership? Can he produce convincing evidence to disprove the fact that this is no more than a device to line the pockets of the entrepreneurs promoting the project, no matter how welcome jobs in West Belfast are?

Mr. Shaw

It is quite true that there have been some delays in the production programme, and I have made that clear to the House on previous occasions. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that what is involved is designed to line the pockets of the promoters. I remind him that the business of the De Lorean research partnership was to design, develop and license for manufacture and sale the DMC 12 car, and the partnership granted an exclusive licence to the De Lorean company. It is our intention to ensure that the project proceeds to market.

Mr. Alan Clark

When did my hon. Friend last visit the production line, if there is such a thing?

Mr. Shaw

I must confess that I have not visited the production line in recent weeks. However, I should like to invite my hon. Friend to accompany me at the earliest opportunity, within the next two weeks, so to do.

Mr. Adley

Is my hon. Friend aware that for once I am in agreement with the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), in that the more one looks at this project the harder it is to work up much enthusiasm for it? Why has it been necessary to subcontract some of the engineering work to Lotus cars? How much of the money that was allocated for jobs in Northern Ireland has found its way into the Lotus car company?

Mr. Shaw

The financing of this company has taken place wholly within Northern Ireland on buildings and arrangements for production. It was always intended that the development of this car should take place where it could best be done. The inclusion of Lotus as the design consultant and developer is surely a mark of substantial favour towards the development of this project.

Mr. Pendry

Is not the Minister aware that, since his answers on the previous occasion, De Lorean has doubled its work force and met its deadline? Does he not agree that the spirit among the work force is first class and that nothing in the House should be said to dampen the enthusiasm of one of the few successful industrial stories in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Shaw

I accept with thanks the hon. Gentleman's comments. I believe that enthusiasm in the House must largely be contained until such time as many thousands of De Lorean motor cars are sold in the United States.