HC Deb 08 February 1995 vol 254 cc327-8
2. Mr. Gunnell

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the total Government funding for the Invest in Britain Bureau for (a) 1992–93, (b) 1993–94 and (c) 1994–95; and how much of that sum in each year was made available in total to the regional development organisations.

The President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

The totals for my Department's programme expenditure on inward investment in those three years are £7.8 million, £8.8 million and £10.6 million respectively. Those include grants to regional development organisations of £5 million, £6 million and £7.2 million.

Mr. Gunnell

In setting the 1995–96 budgets, will the President of the Board of Trade recognise the excellent partnership between the Invest in Britain Bureau and the regional development organisations? Does he agree that investment successes, such as the recent attraction of a Korean company to north Yorkshire, are due to companies seeing themselves as entering the European Union and that pandering to the sceptics is potentially damaging to our continued inward investment success?

Mr. Heseltine

The House should have no doubt at all that the remarkable success in attracting inward investment into the United Kingdom is due to the UK being seen as the most effective place to trade, invest and manufacture in the European Union and the Government are determined to keep it that way. That is why we are so opposed to the Labour party policy of introducing the social chapter.

Mrs. Peacock

I welcome the figures given by my right hon. Friend on the Invest in Britain Bureau. Does he have figures for investment by British companies in British industry? Is he aware that in my part of west Yorkshire, millions of pounds have been invested in manufacturing, new jobs and new technology since 1983?

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The figures could be easily provided and are in the public domain. The latest forecast by the Confederation of British Industry showed growing intentions to invest further, which is much to be welcomed. There has also been very widespread investment by British companies overseas.

Mr. Wigley

Will the President of the Board of Trade clarify whether the figures that he mentioned include any contribution to the Welsh Development Agency in view of the work that that agency does? If his figures did not include any such contribution, is he confident that the WDA is receiving adequate resources for its important work, which is of general benefit not only to Wales but to the UK despite cuts in its budget and the fact that it now has to fund its activities by selling off its assets?

Mr. Heseltine

Everyone is aware of the remarkable success of the WDA under this Government and the inward investment that it has attracted. The Invest in Britain Bureau acts as an umbrella organisation across the entire United Kingdom. Although the regional development organisations are specifically located in England, there is an interplay between the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, for Scotland and for Wales and myself: put the whole lot together and we are attracting a far and away more advantageous share of inward investment than any of the other European Union members.