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Japanese Companies

Volume 933: debated on Monday 13 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what representations he has received from Japanese companies to set up factories in the United Kingdom.

Three Japanese companies are at present discussing with my Department the conditions under which they might set up factories in the United Kingdom.

When my right hon. Friend considers the Hitachi application, will he take into account the effect that this will have on the electronics components industry in this country? Is he aware that it is causing a lot of dismay among workers, particularly as it seems that the tubes will come from Helsinki?

My hon. Friend was good enough to come with a deputation which made representations and expressed its concern quite clearly. I can undertake that we shall take into account the impact on British industry. I can assure my hon. Friend that the Finnish production will be a smaller unit than the Mullard unit and will be particularly aimed at the Russian market rather than the European market.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the grave concern among both management and trade unions about the effect of the Hitachi assembly plant on United Kingdom employment because although a further 250 jobs may be provided another 5,000 may be lost? Is he aware that the United States consumer electronics industry has been ruined by what are regarded as unfair Japanese practices, and will he act robustly to ensure that this does not happen here?

That is why the discussions have taken so long. We want assurances before giving the go-ahead. We want assurances about exports and about the use of British components. It is encouraging to note that a spokesman for Hitachi made a public statement recently that the company would count any set in which there was more than 50 per cent. of imported components against sets that it would otherwise have imported into this country. To that extent, it would not have an adverse effect on British industry. However, we have not finished our consultations either with British industry or with Hitachi.