Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Lack of Transparency' over PS61m Nissan Grant

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Lack of Transparency' over PS61m Nissan Grant

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political editor jonathan.walker@reachplc.com

THE Government's "lack of transparency" over a PS61m grant for Nissan must never be repeated, MPs say.

Business Secretary Greg Clark was criticised by the influential House of Commons Treasury Committee over his failure to reveal exactly what the Government promised carmaker Nissan.

He sent a letter to Nissan in October 2016, in what appeared to be an attempt to persuade the Japanese firm to continue investing in its Sunderland plant following the referendum decision to leave the EU.

But Mr Clark refused to publish the letter, saying it contained sensitive commercial details.

Details only emerged this month, after Nissan announced it will no longer be building the new X-Trail model on Wearside.

Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee and a fellow Conservative MP, said: "It has now become clear that the Government offered PS61m of support to Nissan in April 2018, which was accepted in June 2018.

"At this point, in the interest of transparency, the Government should have informed Parliament about its offer to Nissan.

"Instead, details were only available on a little-known European Commission website.

"This lack of transparency cannot be allowed to set a precedent. When Parliament shows such a keen interest in a particular issue, the Government has a duty to keep it informed." Mr Clark has now written to the Committee to confirm that PS61m was awarded from a Government scheme to support industry called the Regional Growth Fund.

He said: "I can confirm that the award was to support investment in the Sunderland plant covering three key components aimed at improving the productivity, capacity and future prospects of the plant.

"These were to secure new production of the X-Trail, expanded production of the Qashqai (for General Overseas Markets beyond the EU) and investment to raise the plant's output to 600,000 units per annum. …

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