HC Deb 13 January 1998 vol 304 cc140-1
12. Mr. Healey

If he will make a statement on his Department's plans for the Invest in Britain Bureau. [20424]

Mr. Fatchett

The promotion of inward investment is an important objective of my Department. Staff in 30 locations world wide are now actively involved in seeking new investment for the United Kingdom. Since 1 April 1997, the Invest in Britain Bureau has been jointly managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Trade and Industry. Together, we shall continue to promote the attractions of the UK in order to consolidate our position as the preferred location in Europe for inward investment.

Mr. Healey

Does my hon. Friend agree that good product knowledge is basic to good marketing? Is he aware that the Invest in Britain Bureau has, I understand, been to Rotherham to brief itself just once in the past five years? Will he ensure that the IBB has adequate knowledge of all the areas that it promotes? Will he encourage officials to consider visiting our area so that they may better appreciate the merits of Rotherham and South Yorkshire as excellent locations for inward investment?

Mr. Fatchett

I can give my hon. Friend an assurance on the subject. He may be pleased to know that I was talking to a senior official of the IBB this morning; I spoke of the success of South Yorkshire, particularly the attractions of Rotherham. I have no doubt that Rotherham is now high on the list of potential locations for inward investors—it would be an excellent choice. If investors were to come to Yorkshire, that would be an excellent choice.

Mr. Boswell

As the Minister has a difficult choice to make between being strictly fair and objective while trying to promote British interests, will he remember to ensure that the bureau tells inward investors about the consequences of recent Government changes, including the £5 billion raid on pension funds held by companies, the other increases in taxation, the five-fold rise in interest rates and the imposition of a national minimum wage?

Mr. Fatchett

I have no difficulty in being fair and objective and promoting Britain's interests; we have a good story to tell. Inward investors are attracted to the United Kingdom and know that, in the Labour Government, they have a secure Government with a long-term future.

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