HC Deb 11 January 1995 vol 252 cc148-9
16. Dr. Spink

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his latest estimate of the proportion of total European inward investment which is captured by the United Kingdom.

Mr. Heseltine

In 1993 the UK had 41 per cent. by value of the stock of Japanese investment in the EC and 43 per cent. by value of the stock of United States investment in the EC. Comparable stock figures are not readily available from other countries outside the EC.

Dr. Spink

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that this superb inward investment performance greatly contributes to our economic success at the moment? Can he confirm that inward investment would be threatened if we followed the policies espoused by the Opposition parties—policies such as a minimum wage and the adoption of the social chapter? Would they not destroy inward investment, and with it our economic success and millions of jobs in this country?

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend is right. That is why we are determined to fight for the British interest: to ensure that the excesses of the social chapter are never applied here.

Mr. Clelland

Does the Secretary of State recall, during the debates on privatisation, that Opposition Members were repeatedly told that inward investment opportunities from Europe and elsewhere would be enhanced by the regionally based nature of the privatised electricity companies? Indeed, the White Paper went to some lengths to spell out the advantages of such companies. Notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman has said today about the complications of the takeover bid for Northern Electric by Trafalgar, do the Government still believe in the principle of regionally based electricity companies—yes or no?

Mr. Heseltine


Mr. Colvin

Does my right hon. Friend agree that during today's exchanges we have heard many reasons for the improved inward investment to the United Kingdom as a share of the total in Europe; but should we not add to those the fact that we have a stable Government with a fundamental belief in free enterprise, a highly skilled work force which is far more mobile than it used to be because of our housing reforms, the best industrial relations record in Europe, and we are members of the European Union without the social chapter? Does he agree that all those advantages could be put at risk if the alternative Government sitting opposite us were elected?

Mr. Heseltine

I quarrel only with my hon. Friend's use of one word. There is no credible alternative Government on the Opposition Benches.

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