HC Deb 15 February 1989 vol 147 cc311-2
15. Mr. Pike

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in which regions there is a lower investment in constant terms in manufacturing industry in the latest year for which figures are available than in 1979.

Mr. Atkins

The latest available regional data are for 1986. In real terms, capital expenditure in manufacturing industry in 1986 was lower than in 1979 for all regions in the United Kingdom, largely due to the world recession in the early 1980s. Since 1986, manufacturing investment in the country as a whole has risen sharply, and is predicted to rise even faster.

Mr. Pike

Will the Minister recognise that, in the north-west region, investment in manufacturing industry for the period he mentioned was down 38 per cent., jobs in manufacturing industries were down 38 per cent. and output from manufacturing industries was down 18 per cent.? Are not those figures appalling for a key manufacturing region of the nation? Will we not further suffer as a result of the Channel tunnel and 1992, unless the Government act positively to assist our manufacturing regions?

Mr. Atkins

As a north-west Member, I resent most strongly the hon. Gentleman's attempt to do down the north-west when he knows as well as I that the facts on the ground, in his and my constituencies, and in those represented by my hon. Friends, give the lie to what he suggests. Manufacturing investment and productivity are at an all-time high, and the gap caused by the recession in 198–182 meant that any delay in the increase was to be expected. He knows as well as I just how good the position is.

Mr. Thurnham

Does my hon. Friend welcome the fact that once small manufacturers in the regions—such as Reebok in Bolton-have succeeded in developing into large international trading concerns and have brought great wealth to this country? Will he do all that he can to assist international companies with headquarters in the regions, instead of listening to the small-minded views of Opposition Members?

Mr. Atkins

My hon. Friend, along with many other Conservative Members who represent northern constituencies, spends as much time as I do trying to encourage people to come to our region, to build headquarters of companies and to invest there. The activities of Labour Members in doing down our region do not help.