§ 1. Sir A. Meyer
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he can give an estimate of the number of jobs created since June 1970 by non-British-owned firms establishing themselves or expanding their activities in Wales.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)
Since June 1970, 16 non-British firms have either set up manufacturing businesses in Wales or announced a firm intention of doing so. Nearly 1,900 jobs have already been created and a further 1,750 are expected to arise. Most non-British firms which are already established are expanding their activities.
§ Sir A. Meyer
Does my right hon. and learned Friend expect that the number of jobs thus created by non-British firms will continue to increase in the light of the expansion of the European Economic Community? Is there not a risk that that process may be arrested or even reversed if the Labour Party carries out its threats of directing industry? Is a policy of directing industry conceivable without the accompanying direction of labour?
§ Mr. Thomas
I am certainly convinced that our membership of the EEC greatly increases the attractiveness of Wales as a location for international investment. I agree that the direction of industry would hardly be an inducement as there is a risk of a spillover to the direction of labour.
§ Mr. Kinnock
Why does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman dismiss the uninformed nonsense spoken by his hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer)? Does he not recognise that the whole of Wales welcomes the inflow of foreign-owned firms? However, our record is not so good when compared with that of Scotland. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman take further step to try to encourage the inflow of foreign-owned firms, and especially Japanese-owned firms, into Wales? Japanese firms have a developing record here. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's office could be of great assistance in this matter.
§ Mr. Thomas
It is now clear that our regional and industrial policies are providing an incentive for home-based and foreign firms to come to Wales. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that Sony has decided to invest in Wales. I shall be meeting Japanese representatives shortly in Wales to discuss further investment.
§ Mr. Fred Evans
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell the House, in view of the statement made by the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), whether any thinking is going on in the Welsh Office about the possibility of guiding State-owned or State-supported enterprises into regions like Wales? The right hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware that in areas such as Wales there are long-standing problems. The population of Wales would welcome direction of industry to cure its ills.
§ Mr. Thomas
As the hon. Gentleman knows only too well, the Welsh economy is greatly dependent on State-supported enterprises. The Government have indicated their support of both steel and coal, knowing full well how much the Welsh economy depends on those two industries.