HC Deb 28 November 1994 vol 250 cc909-11
1. Mr. Fabricant

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he next plans to visit north America to discuss inward investment in Wales.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Redwood)

There has recently been a large mission to the United States led by the Welsh Development Agency, the Wales tourist board and the Cardiff Bay development corporation. I myself have no immediate travel plans, as I think that my presence is required in Parliament.

Mr. Fabricant

A few weeks ago, I visited an electronics company in Maine, in the United States of America. Is my right hon. Friend aware that that company now plans to invest in south Wales? It intends to produce a new company—not just because of low inflation, sustained growth and good economic relations but because of the good labour pool that exists in south Wales.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as well as looking to Germany and the European Union, we should look to the United States? The Americans like doing business with us, and we like doing business with them.

Mr. Redwood

My hon. Friend is quite right. Of course we are looking to the United States, and my hon. Friend may be reassured to learn that we have been extremely successful. Between April 1983 and October 1994, we received 55 per cent. of all the money invested by overseas companies from the United States of America. We are very proud that, over many years, companies such as Ford, 3M, General Electric and British Alcan have made many substantial investments and now have many thousands of employees in Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones

Does the Secretary of State agree, however, that the benefits of inward investment from America can be destroyed when a United States company can steal 900 jobs from the Raytheon plant in my constituency? I still look to the right hon. Gentleman—I thank him for the assistance he has already given—to enable my constituents to meet the company's chairman and make their case.

May I also remind the right hon. Gentleman that Airbus announced the loss of 200 aerospace jobs in my constituency last week? I ask him to use every resource at his disposal to ensure that our Government order the future large aircraft and that Hercules aircraft are not ordered from America.

Mr. Redwood

First, I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall use whatever powers I have to try to influence the company—even at this late stage, after it has made its decision. I shall intervene again to see whether any more can be done. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have met him, the company's work force and other hon. Members who have taken up the issue. I have assured them that I shall do all that I can to persuade Raytheon to create or maintain more jobs in Wales, where it has been well served by the work force to date and could be well served again.

As for the other matter, the Government will make a decision when we have all the necessary information. The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that his points will be taken fully into account.

Mr. Brandreth

May I echo the question asked by the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones)? This matter deserves real priority, not just in north Wales but across the border in Chester. I urge my right hon. Friend to do what he can to intervene positively in the case of Raytheon Jets and the proposed transfer to the United States of America.

Mr. Redwood

I entirely agree. Let me repeat what I said to the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones), and also pay tribute to my hon. Friend: he has been equally assiduous in pursuing the interests of his constituents and people in Wales who want such jobs.

Mr. Ron Davies

Given that much American investment comes to Wales so that America can get a foothold in the European Union, will the Secretary of State confirm that he is a less than enthusiastic supporter of the European Communities (Finance) Bill, which will increase Britain's contribution to Europe by more than £1 billion over a period? Do the right hon. Gentlemen and his Cabinet colleagues feel any surprise at the contempt and derision in which they are held by the people of Britain, when the only way in which they can suppress their party's schizophrenia over Europe is to threaten collective suicide? Does the right hon. Gentleman draw any conclusions from the fact that, if his Government were to be defeated in the Lobbies this evening, the cheer that would go up throughout the country—

Madam Speaker

Order. This is Question Time, but we seem to be already engaging in an Adjournment debate. I want to hear brisk questions; I have a number of Back Benchers to call.

Mr. Davies

Does the Secretary of State draw any conclusions from the fact that, if his Government were to be defeated in the Lobbies tonight, the roar that would go up would be greater than the roar that would have gone up in Cardiff on Saturday if we had beaten the Springboks?

Mr. Redwood

The Government will win the vote tonight and the hon. Gentleman knows that well. I am proud that, when the proposals were put to him, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister negotiated down the first demands of the European Community and he reached a much better deal than that suggested by the European Commission. We accept it. I am proud that it is this Government who have campaigned against waste and unnecessary expenditure and who, through the member states, have given new powers to the auditors to root out the fraud. I am proud that we shall unite in confidence behind the Government tonight.

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