HC Deb 21 November 1983 vol 49 cc2-3
2. Mr. Raffan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the companies he visited during his recent visit to the United States of America; and which of those companies are seriously considering locating in Wales, in Clwyd and in Delyn, respectively.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)

During my visit to the United States in September I had extensive discussions with company representatives and made a number of company visits. Some of those I met are considering Wales as a location for new investment. I do not believe that it is helpful to give full details in these circumstances, but I can say that among those companies are several that are considering plans for development on Deeside.

Mr. Raffan

I appreciate my right hon. Friend's reticence to go into great detail, but will he confirm that those American companies that expressed an interest in Wales are attracted not just by the British home market but by the much wider European Community market? Does he agree that if we are to take seriously the protestations of Labour Members about jobs, they must reject unconditionally their policy of withdrawal from Europe, because such a policy would drive away foreign companies, destroy thousands of existing jobs in Wales and prevent the creation of many new ones?

Mr. Edwards

In almost every case—if not in every case—the prime consideration was access to the entire European market, not just to the United Kingdom market. Most of those companies consider it important to have separate research and development establishments here because of the separate and differing needs of the European market compared with the United States market.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that many foreign as well as British firms would be more likely to put new facilities into Wales if he could persuade his Cabinet colleague the Secretary of State for Transport to announce the Government's plans for a second crossing of the River Severn? Does he further agree that that would be the overall morale booster that Wales requires?

Mr. Edwards

I have little to add to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport said last week, when he made it clear that the Government recognise the vital importance of the Severn crossing to south Wales. He also made it clear that he was assessing the technical recommendations that he had received, together with the future needs of south Wales, and that we must decide on the strengthening of the present bridge at the same time as reaching decisions about the need for a future bridge. My right hon. Friend said that he hoped to make a statement about both issues in the relatively near future.