MP accuses UK government of levelling down south Wales after Newport Wafer Fab sale decision
A decision to prevent a Chinese-owned company taking over a semiconductor factory in South Wales has left hundreds of workers worrying in the run up to Christmas, ministers have been told.
Last week Nexperia, the owners of Newport Wafer Fab, the UK’s biggest microchip factory, said they were “shocked” after the UK Government informed they must sell at least 86% of the business following a national security assessment.
Newport West MP Ruth Jones told the Commons: “Nearly 600 people with just one month to Christmas have had the most unacceptable shock and worry heaped on them by this Government.
“We have heard so much about a commitment to levelling up but this decision made by Tory ministers is a disgraceful exercise in levelling down Newport West and South Wales.”
She added: “I am concerned that ministers have chosen not to listen to my constituents and instead taken a decision that now puts their livelihoods and their families, as well as more than £100 million of taxpayers’ money, completely and unnecessarily at risk.”
Ms Jones also called on ministers to publish the security assessment which led to the decision and to reveal what discussions UK Business Secretary Grant Shapps has had with the Welsh Government and Newport City Council about support to “mitigate the impact of this decision on our local economy”.
Mr Grant Shapps acknowledged it was a “concerning time for 500 or so employees” at Newport Wafer Fab.
But he added: “She is not privy to the information that I have had to weigh up in order to come to this national security decision, which I have done with the utmost diligence and taken all of the factors into account.
“Nor can I am afraid accede to her request to publish that information.”
Mr Shapps had earlier told the Commons he was “unable to go into further detail about the national security assessments and implications which have formed this decision”.
But the Business Secretary did summarise a final order made to Nexperia, telling MPs: “What I can say is the final order requires Nexperia to follow a set process leading to divestment within a specified period.”
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee had said last year that the sale of Wafer Fab to a “company with links to the Chinese Communist Party” had resulted in one of the UK’s “prized assets” going to a “strategic competitor” and could potentially compromise national security.
Following the move by the UK Government last week, a Welsh Government spokesperson said the decision has provided some welcome clarity.
“Our immediate priority now is to safeguard the future of the hundreds of highly skilled jobs in Newport,’ they added.
“We remain fully committed to ensuring the continued development of our compound semiconductor cluster in south east Wales and the role it plays on a wider UK scale.
“In light of the UK Government’s decision, UK Ministers now clearly view the compound semiconductor sector in Wales as a strategic national asset as well as being internationally recognised.
“We therefore call on the UK Government to invest in the sector to safeguard its future.”
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