HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 cc373-4
6. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

What plans he has for overseas visits to promote inward investment in Wales in the next six months. [122066]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

In line with the Government's objective that Britain should be fully engaged in the European Union, the Secretary of State and I are considering a programme of contacts and possible visits to as many EU accession countries as possible. We will use those opportunities to promote Welsh business and Welsh industry.

Michael Fabricant

I am pleased to hear that, and I am sure that the whole House knows that the Minister and the Secretary of State want to do their best for Wales. However, is it not the case that, in his position as Leader of the House, the Secretary of State has to chair three Cabinet Committees and be here in London every Thursday to take business questions? Once a month he has to be here in London in order to answer questions to the Leader of the House, so where will he find the time to go abroad and promote Wales?

Mr. Touhig

I do not think that anyone can doubt the time and commitment that my right hon. Friend gives to Wales. It is absolutely first class, and he will not let up in his determination to do his best for Wales. He constantly promotes a world-class Wales. The hon. Gentleman talks about other jobs and other responsibilities, so why does he not ask the shadow Secretary of State for Wales how he had time to walk up and down Whitehall with a "for sale" placard on the day of the reshuffle? Clearly, he had nothing to do, and I thought that he was a newsagent, not an estate agent.

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West)

Under devolution we have a First Minister and a National Assembly. The First Minister recently visited Barcelona, where he met with the bosses of Celsa, which is reopening the steel plant in Cardiff, thanks to the partnership between the Government in Westminster and the National Assembly in Cardiff. Is not that an example of the way in which devolution can work to bring inward investment to Wales?

Mr. Touhig

My hon. Friend is right. Indeed, I was in the Czech Republic last year with seven companies and Wales Trade International, to promote Welsh jobs and business and to forge links. We have a good and effective partnership between the Labour Governments in the Assembly and in Westminster. It is working well in the interests of the people of Wales. They certainly appreciated that when they gave us a sound vote of confidence on 1 May, by returning a Labour majority in the Assembly.