HC Deb 15 February 1989 vol 147 cc304-5
7. Mr. Kennedy

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he last met representatives of Toyota; what subjects were discussed; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

My right hon. and noble Friend recently held a meeting with the vice-president of Toyota, Mr. Tatsuro Toyoda, during which he made it clear that, were the company to decide to locate its project for a car manufacturing plant in the United Kingdom, it would receive a warm welcome from the Government. Toyota has been invited to work closely with our officials in pursuing its feasibility studies.

Mr. Kennedy

Given that welcome news of Toyota's interest in locating a plant in Britain—and that, if the venture is successful, there can be only one winner in terms of the fortunate site or region of the country that is chosen—what assessment have the Government made of the likely spin-off to the components industry, for example? Has Toyota given any indication of the type of trade union agreement that it would wish to reach for such a plant? Many of us in Scotland who witnessed the sad, sorry and disgraceful episode at Dundee, do not want a repeat performance of the Ford fiasco and the lost opportunity that occurred there.

Mr. Newton

I am sure that very nearly the whole House agrees with the hon. Gentleman's concluding remark. I am not in a position to speculate about Toyota's intentions, and I cannot make any authoritative estimate of the spin-off effects, but having seen some of the spin-off effects of Nissan's plant in the north-east it is clear that there would be substantial secondary business.

Mr. Jack

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the interest shown by Japanese companies such as Toyota in investing in the United Kingdom is a reflection of the Government's economic policies, but what advice would he give areas such as Lancashire in which the rising sun has yet to be seen?

Mr. Newton

I would give them the advice, indeed the information, that the present significant amount of overseas investment is reaching all parts of the United Kingdom, which is very encouraging for the country and for its future in the single market.

Mr. Harry Ewing

Apart from the fact that the populist hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr Kennedy) does not know the first thing about what actually happened at Dundee, will the Minister bear in mind that Toyota is the only Japanese company that sponsors a pipe band? Is that not a good basis on which to hope that, when Toyota locates its new plant in Britain, I shall be able to welcome the company to the Central region of Scotland, where I assure the Minister that they will be very welcome?

Mr. Newton

I shall ask for the position of the pipe bands in the hon. Gentleman's constituency to be drawn to Toyota's attention in any further contacts that may take place.

Mr. Dickens

Is it not encouraging that countries all over the world are considering investing in the United Kingdom? Is that not because buying British now means travelling first class? It means obtaining goods of the right quality at competitive prices, delivered on time and with a good after-sales service.

It is the Conservative Government who have put the train back on the rails. Once again, British is best, and that is why the Japanese are looking towards us. If they would like to come to Oldham and Rochdale, they will receive a big welcome.

Mr. Newton

The answer to my hon. Friend's question is, broadly speaking, yes.