HC Deb 07 February 1995 vol 254 cc134-5
9. Mr. Brandreth

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his assessment of the impact on inward investment of the United Kingdom's recent industrial relations record; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo

The turnround in industrial relations records since 1979 has contributed to our remarkable record in attracting inward investment, which has made the United Kingdom the number one location in Europe.

Mr. Brandreth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the City of Chester has a remarkable record for attracting inward investment in recent years? Will he confirm that, in the year to last November, some 238,000 days were lost in this country through industrial action, compared with 1979, when 29 million days were lost in that one year? Does he see a direct correlation between those two startling facts?

Mr. Portillo

I congratulate the City of Chester on attracting inward investment and I congratulate my hon. Friend on his part in that. He has always been positive and welcoming and has looked for opportunities for his constituents. I see a direct correlation between that and our performance in industrial relations. To put it graphically, in the first month of 1979, we lost five times as many days through strikes as we lost in the whole of 1993. Those who want the bad old days of industrial relations and disorder restored by returning the Labour party to Government need their heads examined.

Mr. MacShane

The Secretary of State will be aware that inward investment and industrial relations will be discussed at the United Nations social summit next month in Copenhagen. Will he confirm that neither he nor the Prime Minister will be attending that summit, and that a flunky or a flunkette will go instead? While the majority of European, OECD and third-world countries will be sending heads of state and Ministers of Labour, is not Britain once again snubbing the summit and sending a message of patronising indifference to the third world?

Mr. Portillo

The hon. Gentleman gets very agitated about a matter on which no decision has been taken.

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