HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc7-8
6. Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many inquiries the Welsh Office have answered during the current financial year from overseas companies interested in developing new manufacturing jobs in (a) Gwynedd and (b) Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Hunt

I am delighted to be able to say that in the current financial year there have, to date, been 189 visits to Wales by potential inward investors. Increasing interest is being shown in investment in Gwynedd and, indeed, throughout Wales.

I am particularly delighted to be able to announce today that Euro/DPC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Los Angeles-based Diagnositc Projects Corporation, is to relocate to Gwynedd with an investment of nearly £10 million at Llanberis, which will create 200 jobs. I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for his help in securing that marvellous inward investment project.

Mr. Wigley

I welcome the Secretary of State's statement and thank him for his positive commitment to the project. I also thank the Welsh Office, which rapily expedited these matters, the Welsh Development Agency and Gwynedd county council for the role that they played. In particular I thank Arfon borough council, whose ability to attract inward investment was exemplary. Does the Secretary of State agree that for a leading American company to have chosen Gwynedd as its European base for this major project gives the lie to those who—say[Interruption.]—that inward investment will not come to counties such as Gwynedd? Does he also agree that it is the prelude to a much happier future, with more industrial investment and more jobs?

Mr. Hunt

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. It was outrageous of Labour Members to shout "Tory friend", as though this good news were bad news for the Labour party. In fact, it is indeed bad news for the Labour party. It gives a marvellous boost to the economy of north Wales and will further help to stem the tide of bright young Welsh men and women who, traditionally, have left the area to find opportunities elsewhere. An industry at the leading edge of technology has chosen to locate in an area where the Welsh language and traditions thrive. I am sure that that decision will be seen as a milestone in the economic development of Gwynedd.

Mr. Grist

Does my right hon. Friend agree that flat production and pay and earnings increases of 9 or 10 per cent. are bound to result in falling employment and to lessen the attractiveness of Wales to inward investors? As the cost of living has barely risen in the past six months, those rises are quite unnecessary to counter the rise in the cost of living.

Mr. Hunt

I agree that high wage rises are a disincentive. None the less, I am able to announce the creation of further jobs at Swansea enterprise park, where a Japanese company, Shimano UK, is establishing the European headquarters of its fishing equipment division. Another Japanese company, Aiwa UK, will invest nearly £4 million in extending operations at its factory near Crumlin in Gwent, and Therapeutic Antibodies Incorporated of Nashville, Tennessee is to establish a biological manufacturing facility in Dyfed, with financial support from the Welsh Office. I cannot hear cheers from Labour Members, but I can hear them from elsewhere in the House.

Mr. Barry Jones

Our inward investment record is very good, and the right hon. Gentleman's news on Gwynedd will help the county very much. Given last Thursday's news that unemployment last month was the highest since June 1981, does the Secretary of State accept that the Welsh economy is suffering from the same political incompetence, mismanagement and dithering that we saw from the right hon. Gentleman on the poll tax? Does he agree that we need a budget for investment, and is he aware that according to the latest available figures there has been a cut of almost 60 per cent. in full-time manufacturing jobs in the Neath and Port Talbot area in the past 10 years? The right hon. Gentleman's press release in Neath this morning was a travesty of the facts and he should be ashamed of it.

Mr. Hunt

I have a horrible feeling that the hon. Gentleman wrote that before he was aware of the contents of my announcement. Since our previous Welsh Question Time, I have been able to announce 17 projects supported by the Welsh Office involving investment of more than £63 million and creating more than 1,260 new jobs. I was delighted to give regional selective assistance of more than £10 million towards those new job opportunities. Although I greatly regret any increase in unemployment, that is why I say that the medium to longer-term prospects for Wales are still as good as ever and the Labour party should stop talking our country down.

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