On Monday 6th December, Lord Prior of Brampton repeated a Government statement in the House of Lords regarding the acquisition of Vauxhall-Opel. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the Ellesmere Port plant is in my diocese and its closure at any time would be a disaster for that area on the banks of the Mersey. I recognise that that is not in immediate prospect, but can the Minister say more about the strategy to make the long-term loss-making Vauxhall-Opel group more profitable? If GM could not do it, how does Peugeot Citroën plan to do it?
Lord Prior of Brampton: The right reverend Prelate makes an interesting point, which the noble Lord, Lord Mendelsohn, made earlier—that Opel-Vauxhall has made a loss every year for the past 15 years. But that rate of loss has come down, and the new chief executive of GM embarked on a turnaround plan for both Opel and Vauxhall, which was beginning to work. The projection given by Carlos Tavares—I may get the years wrong—is that he is expecting an operating profit of 2% next year, with a target operating profit of 5% within five years from the combined business of Vauxhall and Opel in Europe. So that is his plan. He went out of his way to say that, since he became chief executive of PSA, not a single plant within PSA has closed. There are grounds for cautious optimism.