HC Deb 05 April 1976 vol 909 cc14-5
8. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Industry to what extent United Kingdom membership of the EEC has attracted industry to the United Kingdom in the last nine months.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

Since last July, we have known of decisions by nearly 100 foreign companies to establish or expand in Britain. A further seven foreign companies have been offered assistance under the accelerated projects scheme. Our membership of the EEC will have been a factor weighing with many of these companies.

Mr. Marten

Can the Minister say what has been the total number of new projects attracted since 1973? Is it greater or less than was expected in 1972?

Mr. Mackenzie

The number of new projects attracted to the United Kingdom in 1973 totalled 180. In 1974, it was 198 and in 1975, 149. That is creditable, in view of the world recession.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Does my hon. Friend remember that we were told that it would be wonderful for British industry if we went into the EEC? What has happened?

Mr. Mackenzie

I would have thought that the announcement I have just made would give my hon. Friend some pleasure. Bearing in mind the world-wide recession and the fact that there has been little expansion, I think that we have done very well in the last nine months.

Mr. Grylls

Will the Minister make clear that the Government will go on encouraging foreign firms to come to Britain, recognising that they bring much-needed investment to areas which badly need it and provide more jobs?

Mr. Mackenzie

I think we have made that clear in the last two years. We are always anxious to encourage inward investment. It is a considerable factor in providing jobs, especially in the assisted areas. In the latter part of last year, an important group of American business men came over to study the situation here and were impressed with what we were able to do for them.

Mr. James Lamond

Is my hon. Friend aware that investment is a two-way matter in the EEC? Has he figures showing how much British investment has been made in the other eight countries of the Community in the last nine months?

Mr. Mackenzie

I do not have the figures for that period, but I shall let my hon. Friend have them. On balance, the figures indicate a positive improvement in our position.

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