HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 cc298-9
6. Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has to attract more inward investment into Wales [2599]

Mr. Hain

Our commitments to improve the skills levels of our people, create a buoyant economy, improve the infrastructure and take a positive attitude towards the European Union and our proposals to create an economic powerhouse will make Wales even more attractive to inward investors.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the reasons for the previous Government's extremely successful record of attracting inward investment to Wales were flexible labour policies, the lowest corporation tax in the Group of Seven and a willingness to fight for a free and fair market in Europe? If he does not agree with that analysis, how does he plan to encourage inward investment on the scale shown by LG, creating 6,000 jobs?

Mr. Hain

The reason LG came to Wales was that it knew that a Labour Government were on the way. The hon. Gentleman is completely ignorant of the reasons for the success of inward investment in Wales. The success is due to the Welsh Development Agency, which was established by a Labour Government, pursuing policies of intervention and partnership—which were anathema to the Thatcherite, free-market dogma that, over the past 18 years, has destroyed jobs in Wales. Such dogma is why the Conservative party was wiped out in Wales.

Mr. Donald Anderson

Does my hon. Friend agree that a new and very positive factor in inward investment decisions is that we no longer have a Government who are involved in Euro-bashing for the purposes of their own internal civil war but have a Government who, as was shown at the Amsterdam Council, are determined to play a full partnership role in Europe?

Mr. Hain

I agree with my hon. Friend, although whether the civil war will continue in the Conservative party remains to be seen. Certainly, the Laurel and Hardy act now about to take over the Tory party bodes ill for it.

Mr. Ian Bruce

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House, as his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State could not, whether the money that is currently going to the Welsh Development Agency and is helping to bring investment to Wales will be reduced by the costs of having a Welsh Assembly? We know that the referendum will be paid for by the UK taxpayer, but we do not yet know whether it is to be paid for out of the Welsh Office vote and therefore out of the money going to Welsh development.

Mr. Hain

The answer is no. Indeed, it was the Conservative Government who were responsible in recent years for fleecing the WDA of many of its resources. We intend to strengthen the WDA in a new powerhouse for Wales, working with the Welsh Assembly to bring new investment, jobs, opportunities and prosperity.