HC Deb 10 December 1992 vol 215 cc991-2
15. Mr. Brandreth

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from businesses in the north-west about his autumn statement.

Mr. Portillo

The Chancellor's autumn statement has been widely welcomed by business organisations in the north-west and throughout the country.

Mr. Brandreth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in Chester the chamber of commerce has warmly welcomed the broad range of measures introduced in the autumn statement, warmly welcomes the fact that we now have the lowest interest rates in the European Community and believes that the only missing ingredient is confidence, which in Chester is now beginning to return?

Mr. Portillo

I have been very pleased by some of the news from the north-west. General Motors and Vauxhall have invested £190 million in a new V6 engine plant at Ellesmere Port, and AMCOR in my hon. Friend's constituency of Chester has invested £25 million to build a new corrugated box manufacturing plant. I am sure that that is good news for my hon. Friend and for all his constituents.

Mr. Mandelson

Would not growth in the north-west and the rest of the country be greatly assisted by greater financing of capital projects? Has not the president of the European Investment Bank said that if the bank were asked, it would increase and speed up the financing of capital projects throughout this country and Europe? Why have the British during their presidency not asked the bank to do so?

Mr. Portillo

First, I believe that one of the reasons why such a broad welcome was given to the measures contained in the autumn statement was that it offered so much protection for capital projects. Individual projects that we have announced, such as proceeding with the Jubilee line, are of tremendous symbolic significance and very helpful. As for the European Investment Bank, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have some proposals regarding the bank which he will wish to put to the European Community at the Council meeting in Edinburgh.