Ford UK (Duty of Care to Visteon Pensioners)

Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden) (Con): I acknowledge that my hon. Friend probably has as deep an attachment to this issue as any other colleague, and many hon. Members have spoken with great knowledge about the issue today. Does he detect any way in which we can achieve anything in the court of Parliament if a favourable answer is not found in the courts of law?

Stephen Metcalfe: I thank my right hon. Friend for his intervention, and yes, that is really why we are having this debate. Ultimately we all believe that, whatever the outcome of the court case, Ford has a moral obligation and that if it does not meet that moral obligation we will continue to highlight the fact that it has failed its former employees. One of those former employees worked for Ford for 30 years before working for Visteon for only three months, but they have now suffered a significant loss in pension.

As I have said, the courts will test the legality, but the moral case stands for itself. Ford wanted out of this expensive business, and that is why it spun off Visteon. Ford talks about being a “family”, and the reason why its former employees feel so aggrieved is that, because they felt part of that “family”, they trusted their employer, Ford. Ford is a blue-chip firm with a history going back to before the first world war, and its employees were told that their pension was secure. The employees took that at face value. Of course, perhaps in hindsight they should have sought a little more clarity and explored what that promise meant, but they were allowed to take away the general impression that their rights were protected and that they were still part of the Ford “family”.

If those employees had looked a little more deeply and if they had considered the nightmare scenario of the business collapsing and the pension fund being underfunded, perhaps things might have turned out differently; perhaps they would not have transferred and perhaps it would have been more difficult for Visteon to spin off. But they did not do those things. They took Ford at its word and Visteon was floated off in a vessel that I believe was already holed below the waterline even though it was trying to make its way in the world.