§ 11. Mr. Fabricant
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last had meetings with the management of Japanese-owned corporations based in Wales.
§ Mr. David Hunt
Japanese investment in Wales continues to be a great success and I have regular contact with the companies concerned, both in Wales and in Japan.
§ Mr. Fabricant
Is my right hon. Friend aware that Wales has the highest investment from Japan of any nation in the European Community, on a per capita basis, and probably the highest invesment on an absolute basis? Does he agree that that is a result of two things? First, it is a testimony to the hardworking spirit of the people of Wales. Secondly, as it is the Prime Minister's birthday, 12 today of all days should not we accept that it is also due to his unique opt-out from the social chapter in the Maastricht treaty, which creates jobs in Wales?
§ Mr. Hunt
I agree with my hon. Friend that we are very proud of the tremendous Japanese investment in Wales. I hope that every hon. Member will join me in commending the Japanese for the way in which they continually put more resources into Wales. We now have 43 Japanese companies, employing more than 12,000 people, and they constantly tell me that they come to Wales because the quality of the work force there is second to none outside Japan.
§ Dr. Kim Howells
Although all hon. Members recognise the invaluable role played by inward investment, does the Secretary of State realise that Japanese, German or American inward investment, can be only a supplement to the well-being of the economy of Wales? The disgraceful decision to close the Betws and Taff Merthyr collieries—which will be debated later—will do nothing to strengthen the Welsh economy. All that it will do is put men out of work and families on the dole.
§ Mr. Hunt
The hon. Gentleman will recall that the decision on Taff Merthyr was communicated to the work force as long ago as 20 August last year. The future of Taff Merthyr is now a matter of consultation between British Coal and the men. British Coal has made it absolutely clear that if it sees no further use for either Taff Merthyr or Betws, it feels obliged to offer the future management of that pit to the private sector.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned Germany. It must be a matter of great pride to Wales that we have just heard from Bosch that it plans virtually to double employment at its factory, referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney) earlier. Bosch says that the performance of its factory in south Wales is better than any factory it has in Germany or anywhere else in the world. There must be great pride in Wales at those comments.