§ Mr. Paul Marsden
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the assistance available through Advantage West Midlands to mitigate the effect of the 500 redundancies at Perkins in Shrewsbury. 
§ Alan Johnson
The situation at Perkins is, potentially, very damaging for the company, its employees, Shrewsbury and the surrounding area, and the Government86W are treating it with the seriousness it deserves. As the hon. Member knows, I met with representatives of management and unions from the company on Monday March 11, to explore ways of mitigating the effects of any redundancies.
Perkins are now looking at ways of saving some jobs on the site and extending production beyond the end of 2002. For the time being, the number and type of jobs that will be lost is not clear. The type of activity the company hopes to continue and the type of support they will request is also not clear.
For that reason it is currently not possible to say what support can be offered to Perkins through Advantage West Midlands, or through other Government funded agencies in the locality.
However, a task force has been convened to look at the implications for the area and to offer as much coordinated advice and help as possible. Management and unions from the site are members, and the Government are represented through the Government Office for the West Midlands. Advantage West Midlands is a key member and other members include both Local Authorities covering the area, the Employment Service, the SBS and the local Learning and Skills Council. A key function of the task group, set out in their terms of reference, is to identify all the potential sources of funding available and to develop a coordinated response to the needs of the company, the town and the surrounding areas.