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Foreign Investment

Volume 35: debated on Tuesday 18 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what importance he attaches to the encouragement of investment in Wales by overseas companies; and whether he will make a statement.

The encouragement of inward investment to Wales is of fundamental importance in terms of both the direct employment provided and the special contribution that projects from overseas can make to the development of a diverse, modern and efficient industrial base within the Principality. The competition to attract international mobile projects has become very much keener in recent years and with that in mind I have re-examined the arrangements that exist to promote Wales as a location for such investment and to translate potential interest into firm projects.

The Development Corporation for Wales has over the past 25 years made a considerable contribution to the task of attracting firms from the United States, Japan and Western Europe to establish manufacturing units in Wales. It has collaborated closely with the Welsh Development Agency and my Department. I now believe it necessary to streamline the arrangements we have and in particular to bring together the activities undertaken by the Development Corporation for Wales and those of the Welsh Development Agency and of my Department which relate to the attraction of inward investment into one unified operation under a single director. Proposals for a new organisation have been discussed with the chairmen of the agency and the corporation and details will now be considered by the respective boards. The need to maintain essential continuity in terms of both staffing and operations will be borne very much in mind in planning for the establishment of the new body. I hope that it can come into being on 1 April.

The new body will maintain the closest liaison with the Department of Industry's Invest in Britain Bureau and with Diplomatic Service posts in those countries which are the principal sources of inward investment. I am also anxious that there should be very close collaboration between the body and local authorities in Wales in the task of assisting inward investment. I am consulting representatives of local authorities on arrangements for involving them in its work.