HC Deb 19 July 1989 vol 157 cc335-7
11. Mr. Hind

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the levels of inward investment into the United Kingdom in 1988–89, the contribution of the Government by way of regional selective assistance and the number of jobs created.

Mr. Newton

According to the latest information available to the Invest in Britain Bureau, there were 277 inward investment decisions during the financial year 1988–89 which were expected to create 24,000 jobs. Many of these investments came without specific financial assistance, but during this period about 90 foreign-owned companies received offers of regional selective assistance, which is available only in Great Britain, worth around £140 million towards projects expected to create 18,000 jobs.

Mr. Hind

That is excellent news, and a great share of that investment is going to Lancashire, particularly Skelmersdale, with investment in Longulf from the Yemen and Garrett Air Research from the United States. Can my hon. Friend confirm that over the past five years, among EC partners, Britain has achieved one of the largest proportions of inward investment, which has created a large number of jobs? He will know that Ministers from his Department, from the Scottish Office and from the Welsh Office constantly tour the world advocating the British cause and attracting new investment and jobs.

Mr. Newton

I can confirm virtually everything that my hon. Friend has said. We estimate that over the past four years inward investment has created or safeguarded the better part of 200,000 jobs. A quarter of all United States and a third of all Japanese investment in the Community has come to the United Kingdom in recent years, and there have been some outstanding successes in my hon. Friend's part of the world. In addition to those that he mentioned, there is also Sanko Gosei, a leading Japanese manufacturer of moulds and plastics, which is to establish a £6 million plant employing 120 people at Skelmersdale.

Ms. Armstrong

Is the Minister content that regional assistance is now virtually exclusively through inward investment, certainly in the north-east? His decision last week and the incompetence shown by his Department in dealing with the European Community in the case of North-East Shipbuilders in Sunderland and the announcement last week about the closure of a factory in Newton Aycliffe mean that the 2.5 per cent. of firms in the north-east which are British based are being undermined even more. What does the Minister intend to do to ensure that he supports British investment in the regions?

Mr. Newton

Our purpose is to support the regeneration of the economic base of the north-east and other parts of the country. Nissan is achieving a great deal and providing additional opportunities for locally based industry, and Fujitsu is soon to arrive at Newton Aycliffe. The case for the success of what we are achieving makes itself.

Mr. Holt

I hope that my right hon. Friend will take no notice of the whingeing from the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong). Is not the north-east now booming far better than it has done for many years, and is that not reflected not only in the voices of the chambers of commerce and industry, but even in those of trade union leaders in the north-east who are admitting that that is happening?

Mr. Newton

It is happening not only on Tyneside, but on Teesside, as my hon. Friend knows. I hope to have an opportunity later in the year to visit his part of the area.

Mr. Caborn

The Minister paints a glowing picture of the success story, but the figures for forward investment are rather different. Although that amounts to £7 billion, does not the export level of £15 billion in direct investment and £10 billion in investments in portfolios abroad show that there is a massive vote of no confidence?

Mr. Newton

No, I would not agree with a word of it. Historically, the United Kingdom has benefited from an open and liberal trading and capital movement system. It is clear that we are benefiting from that now.

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