HC Deb 22 February 1982 vol 18 cc586-7
18. . Mr. Radice

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the latest information Her Majesty's Government have received about the intentions of the Nissan Company with regard to its proposed factory in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Further discussions between my Department and the company took place in London last week. Some progress was made, but there remain some issues still to be agreed. The final decision of the board of Nissan will also depend upon the identification of a suitable site and a successful outcome to discussions, which it is intended should take place with the relevant trade unions.

Mr. Radice

I accept the need for a good level of British components, but does the Minister agree that there is a very strong case for siting the factory in the North-East, which has a high level of unemployment?

Mr. Jenkin

The choice of site must be primarily one for the company, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that all the discussions have taken place upon the assumption that the factory will be sited in either a development area or a special development area.

Mr. Whitney

Does my right hon. Friend agree that an important element in the Nissan investment decision—as with the decisions of other international companies—is our membership of the EEC? Does he further agree that there is a fundamental paradox, in that Labour Members, while advocating inward investment by foreign companies, oppose our continued membership of the EEC?

Mr. Jenkin

It has been made very clear to me by the representatives of the Nissan company that one of the main attractions that they see in establishing a base in the United Kingdom is that it will offer access to the whole of the European Community.

We have not, of course, discussed the prospects of a Labour Government taking Britain out of the European Community, but no doubt that is a matter on which the Nissan company will wish to receive assurances from the official Opposition. If we lose the contract, we shall know why.

Mr. Dormand

The Secretary of State said that there were still some issues to be settled in the discussions with Nissan. Is he prepared to say what they are? For example, do they include the amount of financial assistance that the Government are likely to give it?

Mr. Jenkin

I think that it would be most unwise of me to be drawn into details of the discussions that I have had with representatives of the Nissan company. These have been on an extremely friendly and frank basis. As I said in reply to an earlier question, useful progress has been made in the discussions that we have had. I do not think that it would be right for me to be drawn into the details.

Mr. Hal Miller

Will my right hon. Friend at least say that the Nissan company deserves to be treated no less well than any other major international motor manufacturer with regard to establishment in Britain, but equally that it would be expected to have the same regard as other international manufacturers to the sourcing of components in Britain?

Mr. Jenkin

As I know my hon. Friend is aware—he follows these matters closely—the local sourcing of components is one of the matters that have figured in the discussions from the very beginning.

With regard to the overall treatment of a major inward investment project of this sort, it has been one of Nissan's points—which it has made perfectly fairly—that it does not wish to be treated less favourably than other companies in similar circumstances. I have been able to give it that complete assurance. I must repeat that I decline to be drawn on the details of the discussions.

Mr. Barry Jones

What consultations has the right hon. Gentleman had with the Secretary of State for Wales on this important matter and what representations has he received from the county of Clwyd? Does he know that in that county male unemployment in the town of Flint has reached about 40 per cent.?

Mr. Jenkin

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not for the Government to determine the location of the factory. It is for the company to choose the location that it thinks will best suit its purposes. It is conducting discussions on the footing of siting the factory in an assisted area.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Will the Secretary of State press the company to make an early decision about the site? Is he aware that considerable time and resources are being devoted to preparing the case for individual areas and developments are being held up while areas await the decision?

Mr. Jenkin

It is for the company to make the decision. It must look at all the factors and, if it is uncertain about some matters, come back for further discussions with the Government. I am as aware as anyone of the desirability of reaching a conclusion, one way or another, in the near future.