§ 2. Mr. Martyn Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had on British companies' participation in joint European research projects.
§ Mr. Leigh
We raised the matter in writing with the responsible Vice-President of the European Commission. My noble Friend the Minister for Industry, who now represents the United Kingdom on research and technology issues, met the Vice-President to discuss the matter on 20 November. He was reassured that, for the purposes of collaborative research, the company would continue to be considered to be a British company.
§ Mr. Batiste
Will my hon. Friend confirm that British companies take about a fifth of the European Community research funds available for industrial development? Does not that show clearly that, when they are playing on a level playing field, British companies are well able to hold their own in the European Community?
§ Mr. Leigh
My hon. Friend is absolutely right and makes a very good point. We should always remember that the main spur to research is not what Government do but the profitability of industry. Industry's funding of research and development increased by nearly 50 per cent. between 1983 and 1988. My hon. Friend makes a fair point.