HC Deb 05 December 1990 vol 182 c288
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

My noble Friend the Minister for Industry has responsibility for research and technology policy. He attended the recent Research Council of EC Ministers on 20 November and discussed EC research and development issues with his ministerial counterparts and the European Commission.

Mr. Jones

What action does the Minister for Industry propose to take to help ICL compete for European research money now that it has been taken over by Fujitsu?

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.