Wales politics

Aston Martin: Welsh Government told to publish aid details

Andy Palmer shakes hands with First Minister Carwyn Jones
Image caption Deal done: Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer shakes hands with First Minister Carwyn Jones

Details of financial support for Aston Martin by the Welsh Government must be published, the information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has ruled.

The car manufacturer announced last year it will make a new luxury car at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Ministers refused to say how much public money the company would get, prompting an objection by a businessman under the Freedom of Information Act.

Ms Denham has given ministers 35 days to send the information to him.

In February 2016, Tom Gallard asked the government to "please provide details of the financial support agreed with Aston Martin to create 750 jobs at St Athan".

The government refused, saying disclosure could "prejudice" commercial interests.

During the process of Mr Gallard's appeal against that decision, the government argued that publishing the information would affect its ability to "achieve value for money" when negotiating with other companies.

Mr Gallard argued there was a public interest in knowing how "large amounts of taxpayers' money is spent so that citizens and taxpayers can decide if it was a good deal or not".

Image copyright Welsh Government
Image caption Aston Martin will be based at St Athan, near Cardiff airport

Ms Denham pointed out that the government had publicised financial support given to various companies in the past.

She also said that the process of applying for financial support from the Welsh Government was comprehensive and, therefore, the amount another company could get was unlikely to be affected by disclosure of the aid to Aston Martin.

The government also argued that disclosure of the information would be likely to "prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs", an opinion put forward by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The commissioner decided this was not a reasonable view.

The Welsh Government has the right to appeal.

A spokesman said: "We note the Information Commissioner's decision and we are considering our next steps."

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