HC Deb 06 November 1996 vol 284 cc1238-40
21. Mr. Batiste

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the figures for inward investment into (a) the United Kingdom, (b) Germany and (c) France for the period since 1991. [549]

Mr. Greg Knight

The most recent information from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that inward investment flows into the United Kingdom in the period from 1991 to 1995 totalled $87.7 billion, compared with $62.3 billion into France and $13.2 billion into Germany.

Mr. Batiste

Is it not clear that Britain not only receives the lion's share of inward investment from Japan, Korea and the United States, but is increasingly getting inward investment from France and Germany as well? Is it not the clearest sign that the Government have got their policies right on the economy, on social costs and on trade union reform when even French and German business men vote with their feet and come to Britain?

Mr. Knight

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the period from 1991 to 1993, Germany invested £2.3 billion in the United Kingdom and France invested £2.1 billion.

Mr. Clapham

Is the Minister aware that the American utilities are working with some local government departments to attract inward investment? Georgia Power, for example, working with some of the departments of the state government, attracted 32,000 jobs into the state in 12 months. Will the Minister undertake to look at some of those schemes to see what lessons might be learned for the United Kingdom?

Mr. Knight

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point, and I am certainly prepared to look at any information he pushes my way. We are not doing too badly, are we, with 4,500 US firms located in the United Kingdom, including 99 of the top 100?

Sir Michael Grylls

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is not just a question of investment? From analysing the figures my right hon. Friend has just given, one sees that jobs are being exported from Germany and France to Great Britain, to the benefit of the British people who are getting extra jobs.

Mr. Knight

My hon. Friend makes his point well. The figures also show that, in Britain, we have a skilled, flexible and positive work force.

Mr. Purchase

Should not the Minister come clean about aggregate investment in those three economies and admit that Britain is seriously lagging behind? Should he not disaggregate the figures for inward investment in Britain between mere share churning, takeovers and genuine new money investment? Should he not also tell us the extent of external investment from this country? In 1994–95, it was running at £40 billion, which is more than three times the amount of inward investment.

Mr. Knight

That last comment sums up what is wrong with the Labour party. Britain is a trading nation, and we will always be a trading nation. We will be a successful trading nation so long as we have a Conservative Government.