HC Deb 01 February 1982 vol 17 cc9-10
11. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make it his practice to collect statistics to show the level of exports by the United States of American and other foreign-owned enterprises in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Rees

The information is collected annually in the overseas transactions inquiry and the latest results, which were for 1979, were published in British Business, 3 July 1981, s 447 and 448, a copy of which is in the Library.

Mr. Grist

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that such figures show the value to Britain of inward investment, which in recent years has come largely as a result of our membership of the EEC, and which would be severely damaged in places such as Wales if we withdrew from the EEC?

Mr. Rees

My hon. Friend makes a sound point. One knows of the contribution to the Welsh economy of a variety of foreign-controlled companies that have invested recently.

Mr. Marlow

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that people making investment decisions do so on the basis of whether that decision will be profitable, and not purely on the basis of whether Britain is a member of the EEC? Given that we have a massive deficit in trade in manufactures with the European Common Market, is it not possible that in some areas, at least, our present arrangements with the EEC are disbeneficial to potential investors? [HON. MEMBERS: "Disbeneficial?"]

Mr. Rees

It is not for me to speculate on the precise motives of those who invest in Wales. I am sure that investors are actuated by calculations of profitability. When considering the profitability of their ventures they must consider whether there is an open market at their doorstep, such as is afforded by the EEC.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

To help the House to examine the significant figures that the Minister has mentioned, will he at some stage make a statement on the net investment in and out of Britain in the five years before our membership of the EEC and the net investment in arid out in the last five years? In that context, is he willing to study the superb summary of the appalling drain of total investment published in the Sunday press yesterday?

Mr. Rees

I am not aware of any appalling drain. There appears to have been a diversification of portfolio investment, but direct investment has always been possible. It is open to my hon. Friend to table a precise question and if it is directed to me I shall do my best to answer it as faithfully and comprehensively as I can.