§ Mr. Dudley Smith
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) if he has any evidence that international companies in high technology industries are unable to find suitable premises in England and are being forced to locate their operations on the Continent; and, if so, whether he is considering taking any new steps to encourage them to locate their premises in the United Kingdom;
(2) if, in view of the fact that the fastest growing sector of the British high technology industry is in companies employing fewer than 100 people, he has considered the assistance given to such companies to help them to find suitable accommodation, particularly in the Home Counties; and if he will describe any assistance of this kind he is at present rendering.
§ Mr. MacGregor
The provision of suitable premises for international companies in high technology industries is being actively considered both in the public sector and in the private sector. The objective, of course, is to make sure that these companies locate in the United Kingdom. There is little or no hard evidence that it is more difficult to find suitable premises in Britain than in other European countries, although in south-eastern England demand is 411W stronger, land is scarcer and prices are therefore higher than in other parts of the country; this is simply a function of the market.
The traditional sort of industrial estate is not best suited for the new campus-style developments favoured by international companies in high technology industries. Local authorities and new town development corporations are therefore moving towards the provision of premises suitable either for office occupation or for high technology manufacturing. In many instances this involves collaboration with universities, and science parks are now a feature of the development scene in Britain, where what is on offer to the international investor is fully competitive with what is available elsewhere in Europe.
The question whether current planning procedures and practice may inhibit this type of development is under consideration.