HC Deb 30 January 1986 vol 90 cc1082-3
6. Mr. Hanley

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the total of inward investment in Northern Ireland in the latest period of 12 months for which statistics are available; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Boyson

In 1985 there was a total inward investment of £120 million and the Industrial Development Board promoted over 2,000 new jobs in companies with parentage outside Northern Ireland.

Mr. Hanley

While recognising the skill, energy, dedication, and productivity of the vast majority of the people of Ulster, and regretting the absence of the Ulster Unionists from the Chamber, may I ask whether my hon. Friend agrees that the best way to increase inward investment is for the politicians of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to get together to plan a stable and productive atmosphere in which further investment might be attracted?

Dr. Boyson

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Northern Ireland's image of extremism in speeches and of terrorism means that we do not get investment and that the number of tourists is reduced. We hope that the Anglo-Irish agreement will help to bring together the two communities and the two Governments to aid investment and tourism.

Mr. Foulkes

I congratulate the Minister on vigorously rejecting the representations from the Department of Trade and Industry to drop the prosecution against Lotus Cars for its involvement in the De Lorean affair. Will he tell the House what the nature of the representations was and whether the Prime Minister was involved?

Dr. Boyson

The action that is being taken against Lotus Cars was the decision of the official receivers, who believe that that is the right decision.

Mr. Couchman

Has my hon. Friend had any evidence, since the signing of the Anglo-Irish agreement, of any fresh initiatives from the other side of the Atlantic, which were much vaunted when the agreement was signed?

Dr. Boyson

There are two factors involved. First, if we get the climate right, ordinary investment and risk capital should come to Northern Ireland and to the Republic.

The second factor is specifically American — the statement by the President of the United States and the resolutions that went through the House of Representatives and the Senate in favour of financial help for Northern Ireland and the Republic. Officials from the British and Irish Governments have recently been discussing those matters in Washington DC with officials of the American Government.

Mr. Archer

Does the Minister agree that there is little point in encouraging inward investment and at the same time permitting existing enterprises to collapse? Is he aware of the prediction of the Ulster Farmers Union that farmers' incomes are likely to be 70 per cent. down on last year and that his Department's decision not to continue the weather aid support may lead to bankruptcy? Will he make one more attempt to persuade the Treasury that the cost would be more than it is trying to save?

Dr. Boyson

I accept that it is no good bringing in new investment if the existing investment collapses. Last year was a difficult year for agriculture, but considerable help has been given to farmers by the British Government, especially with livestock. Negotiations on the continuance of those measures, or any other means to keep agriculture viable in Northern Ireland, will continue.

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