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Japan (Ministerial Visit)

Volume 124: debated on Monday 7 December 1987

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8.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the anticipated outcome of his visit to Japan.

I met leading industrialists, bankers and politicians in order to establish with them the attractiveness of Wales as the location for Japanese outward investment into western Europe.

I am pleased that in the last month three further Japanese companies have decided to locate their industries in the Principality.

May I suggest to my right hon. Friend that the new factories and jobs that were decided on during his visit were a very worthwhile, positive contribution to the future of Wales, as was all the effort put into securing further investment, which I am sure will come? Was that not infinitely superior to the sterile arguments that my right hon. Friend would have had to listen to from the Opposition Benches if he had cancelled his visit?

Yes. I am almost tempted to ask you, Mr. Speaker, to extend our Question Time a little.

The total figures for Japanese interests in Wales are very impressive. I am delighted to say that among the people whom I met there were some who had originally invested heavily in Wales, and that most of them are deciding to increase their investments massively over the years ahead. I also managed to speak to some 200 or 250 leading Japanese industrialists who have an interest in the longer term in considering Wales as their location in western Europe. As I have always said, I believe that our success is due to the combination of the trade unions, local authorities and the Welsh Office having done everything possible to encourage Japanese firms.

The Secretary of State will know that it has been quite difficult to attract Japanese firms to locate further west than Bridgend. Has he given any thought to the problem?

We are trying to attract Japanese firms to all parts of the Principality by the way in which we pursue our policies—through the Welsh Development Agency, with factory allocations, and by pointing out the various services that are available.

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is extremely difficult to establish a causal link between his visits to Japan and the arrival of factories? One of the three Japanese investments was announced before he went to Japan.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I was delighted to point out that that investment had been announced just before my visit. I joined others on the Friday before the visit in saying how pleased I was that it was happening. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will rejoice equally strongly over all the investment that will come from firms in the future, and that he will congratulate the Government on pursuing policies that will encourage them.