HC Deb 25 June 1984 vol 62 cc677-8
11. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many inquiries from overseas firms have been received in the current calendar year by his Department and the Welsh Development Agency.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

During the first five months of 1984, WINvest—the organisation responsible for coordinating inward investment—received 123 inquiries from overseas companies.

Mr. Grist

Does my right hon. Friend agree that our membership of the EEC is a vital factor in attracting these overseas firms which give so much employment in Wales, but that class-based and futile strikes are amazingly damaging?

Mr. Edwards

I entirely agree, and, of course, the figures that I have given are, at least in large part, an answer to the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones). Since WlNvest was established in April 1983, it has helped to secure 23 new projects by overseas companies, which promise up to 3,500 new jobs, and capital expenditure of £82 million, almost all of this because we are members of the European Community.

Dr. Marek

The Secretary of State mentioned earlier the overseas company Sharp. Does he agree that it would need 200 companies like Sharp setting up in Wales to get the unemployment figures down to what they were in 1979 when the Tory Government took office?

Mr. Edwards

I hope that the hon. Gentleman, of all people, who represents Wrexham, is not seeking to run down a project from a major international company which will initially employ about 250 people and expects to employ about 650 people in the next few years.

Mr. Williams

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. Would a point of order relating to Welsh questions that have been asked be better left till 3.30 pm?

Mr. Speaker

Most definitely. We may even go back to Welsh questions.


Mr. Williams

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recollect, in connection with question No. 9, that the Secretary of State answered by a not unprecedented form of words, referring back. My hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) objected to that answer, seeing it, quite rightly, as an evasion by the Secretary of State, who was trying to avoid spelling out to the people of Wales that there had been a 118 per cent. increase in unemployment since this Government came into office. You then ruled, Sir, that supplementary questions should not be allowed from my hon. Friends, on the ground that the Secretary of State had not given an answer.

Subsequently, after you called the question of the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Grist), the Secretary of State intervened and asked whether he could give a fuller answer to question No. 9. He gave that fuller answer, eventually spelling out the figures that he had sought to conceal, but when he had done so, although my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside was allowed to ask his supplementary question, all other supplementary questions on an issue that is of fundamental importance in Wales were precluded. May I ask you to consider, Sir, whether the Secretary of State could, after the private notice question, return to this matter, and face normal questioning from Opposition Members?

Mr. Speaker

That would not be possible. All questions are of fundamental importance to the Member concerned and, in this instance, of fundamental importance to Wales. As the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) did not rise to ask a supplementary question, it was not unreasonable to move on to the next question, which is exactly what I did. I am anxious, especially during Welsh Question Time, to call as many hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies as possible.

Mr. Ray Powell

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to prolong the point of order, but it is of importance. Some of my hon. Friends and I were hoping to catch your eye to ask supplementary questions. We know that you have used your discretion to allow Back Benchers to ask supplementary questions, especially on unemployment and its effect on their constituncies. In my constituency unemployment has escalated from 3.7 to 19.7 per cent. since the Government took office. That is why I wanted to ask a supplementary question.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman would not be alone in wishing to ask a supplementary question. I try to get through a good range of Welsh questions and I think that the hon. Gentleman would wish me to do so. He was called during Welsh Question Time and I do not think that he has any complaints.