§ Mr. Bagier
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the negotiations with Hitachi.
Mr. Alan Williams
I met with representatives of Hitachi on 6th December, when they informed me that the company had decided not to proceed with its proposal to establish a colour television factory in Washington New Town at this time.
The company explained that, in the lengthy discussions which have taken place between Hitachi and the Government, the company has made a number of important concessions of benefit to the United Kingdom. But the United Kingdom industry and trade unions have remained opposed to the proposal, despite all efforts to explain the company's intentions. Hitachi would not wish to establish a manufacturing facility in the United Kingdom unless the climate was favourable. It believed that even if the United Kingdom Government were to give immediate approval, it could not expect normal operation of the project in the United Kingdom. The company had therefore decided to take the proposal no further at this time.
I told the representatives of Hitachi that I fully understand the reasons for the decision. It remains Government policy to welcome all inward investment which brings benefit to the United Kingdom, but the Government would wish in this case to take account of the views of the United Kingdom industry and trade unions with which it is seeking to develop a strategy for rationalising the electronics industry. Decisions on individual projects in this sector would need to be taken in the light of those discussions. We agreed that there would be other possibilities for future co-operation, and I made clear that the Government would welcome the opportunity to discuss these with Hitachi.
I regret that this project has been deferred but emphasise that it has not been cancelled. Inward investment will continue to play an important part in strengthen 704W ing United Kingdom industry by creating new jobs, particularly in the assisted areas.