HC Deb 27 February 1978 vol 945 cc9-10
3. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many applications he received from Japanese firms in 1977 desiring to set up manufacturing facilities in Great Britain.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Alan Williams)

In the course of 1977, a number of Japanese companies indicated varying degrees of interest in setting up manufacturing facilities in Great Britain.

Mr. Hoyle

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer, but will he use his influence to ensure that quotas are introduced on Japanese goods to protect British industry? Does he not think that a country that is to run up a surplus of £18 billion needs the karate mat to be pulled from under its feet?

Mr. Williams

I do not doubt that the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend will be noted not only here but perhaps in other countries. Like my hon. Friend, I was disappointed that we did not get firmer assurances about the future level of car sales to this country.

Mr. Powell

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that opportunities for Japanese investment are not restricted to Great Britain but that there are equal opportunities for it in Northern Ireland? Will he not overlook that?

Mr. Williams

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct in drawing attention to the needs of Northern Ireland. When in my regional role I discuss the opportunities for siting factories in this country I never fail to mention the opportunities that exist in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Robinson

Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that the Government will not be deterred by a lack of agreement in the Common Market for an early imposition of import quotas?

Mr. Williams

In the context of cars, the ambassador has already explored the situation in Tokyo and is trying to establish precisely what is meant by the partial commitments we had had from Japan. I prefer to say little more at this stage.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Will the Minister say whether any car manufacturer other than British Leyland has requested quotas against Japanese imports? Will he hesitate before unilaterally imposing protective measures against imports, particularly if they are made at the request of companies which are largely responsible for their own misfortunes?

Mr. Williams

The hon. Member should bear in mind that under the Anglo-Japanese agreement it is possible for either country to impose restrictions if an industry looked as though it could suffer undue damage.