HC Deb 10 November 1980 vol 992 cc9-10
6. Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about his recent visit to the United States of America.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

My visit to the United States of America was an investment promotion mission undertaken in conjunction with the Development Corporation for Wales. Over a three week period I had detailed discussions with 20 companies, took part in numerous presentations and talked to a large number of industrialists potentially interested in investing in Wales.

Mr. Best

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this major positive initiative will be welcomed by the people of Wales as a step towards trying to increase further investment in the principality? When my right hon. Friend was in America he spoke with the Kaiser Corporation—not "the Kaiser." Will he continue to press on his Cabinet colleagues methods of reducing energy costs to high energy-consuming industries so that they can expand in the Principality? I refer to particularly to Anglesey Aluminium.

Mr. Edwards

Kaiser is a principal shareholder in Anglesey Aluminium. That company has spoken of the importance that it attaches to its plant in Anglesey. It has made a number of specific proposals to reduce energy costs with a view to enlarging operations in Anglesey. We have asked the corporation to provide in more detail specific statistics and proposals in connection with the scheme. As soon as we have that information we shall give it urgent attention.

Mr. Denzil Davies

On the Secretary of State's recent jaunt to the United States at the expense of the British taxpayer to consult "the Kaiser" did he make clear that the worst possible economic recipe for the United States and for Wales would be for the United States to follow the type of Friedmanite, mad monetary policies which this Government are pursuing? If he goes again to the United States at the taxpayers' expense will he make clear that such policies have caused high inflation, high unemployment and the destruction of the Welsh manufacturing industry?

Mr. Edwards

The hon. Gentleman has fallen below his usual standard. He should not come to the House and suggest that efforts by a large number of people in Wales—including members of the trade union movement—to encourage inward investment, are a matter for cheap jibes. Right across the United States we found widespread interest in investing in the United Kingdom for two reasons. First, United States industrialists believe that we are pursuing the policies that need to be pursued. Secondly, United States industrialists see us as a means of entering the European market. The greatest single disaster that could befall inward investment would be a threat to withdraw from Europe, as proposed by the Labour Party conference.