HC Deb 09 March 1981 vol 1000 c607
10. Mr. Trippier

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what action the Government are taking to encourage overseas telecommunications companies to establish plants in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

In general we welcome investment from overseas which contributes to our industrial performance, increases employment and brings in new technology. I am confident that the new regime for the attachment of equipment to the telecommunications network, which will be introduced once the British Telecommunications Bill becomes law, will lead to increased investment in the telecommunications industry.

Mr. Trippier

Does my hon. Friend welcome the decision by Mitel to construct a new factory in South Wales?

Mr. Baker

I welcome it most warmly. This investment is likely to produce between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs relatively quickly. It is a good example of what I think will happen when we have a liberalised regime for the supply of equipment to the British Post Office.

Mr. Foster

Why does not the Minister considerably increase British Telecommunication's borrowing limit, since that would enable it to take place investment which on all criteria is commercial and which would greatly assist employment in Newton Aycliffe in my constituency?

Mr. Baker

An announcement was made on Friday about the EFL for this year. That was directly determined by investment considerations. The future level of the limit is a matter that I examine regularly and bear very much in mind. In the British Telecommunications Bill I accepted an amendment that would allow British Telecom to go to the market rather than to the Govenment for money. That is permissive, of course. It depends upon Treasury approval.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the Minister have discussions with British Telecom to discover why it is importing telephones for its special range from Southern Ireland? Is not that the kind of manufacturing that could usefully be undertaken in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Baker

I shall certainly look into that. I was not aware of that particular example.