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Inward Investment (North-west)

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 8 July 2010

UK Trade & Investment works with local partners to support inward investors, and in 2008-09 it helped to create or safeguard more than 10,000 jobs in the north-west. The Government intend to publish a White Paper later this year, which will provide more detail on how inward investment can best be supported by UKTI and the Government as a whole.

I thank the Minister for his answer. I am sure that many businesses in Fylde will welcome his response. In his recent speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that Britain was open for business. Can the Minister give an example of a business that is taking that on board?

That is an excellent question; let me give an example. The Chancellor’s decision to simplify and reduce corporate tax rates will directly help to attract more investment. Indeed, by 2014, this country will have the lowest corporation tax rates of any major western country. That is good for investment and good for jobs.

Is the Minister aware of the huge Mersey Gateway project in my constituency to build a second bridge across the Mersey? Independent examination shows that it would probably create 4,000 to 5,000 new jobs as well as hundreds of construction jobs. Will he remind the Transport Secretary of the importance to inward investment and jobs of that project, which is currently postponed, pending review?

I am more than happy to talk to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. The hon. Gentleman is right that in order to encourage investment we need to look at longer-term projects, and investment is an important part of that.

Does my hon. Friend accept that there are constituencies in the south-east that face economic and regeneration challenges as great as those elsewhere in the country? Will he—

Order. I am sorry, but I must explain to the hon. Gentleman that the question specifically relates to the north-west and that although other parts of the country might share similar concerns, they are not relevant to this question. We all get used to these things; I have made these mistakes myself, I assure him.

The Minister will know that businesses in the north-west are very concerned about the loss of investment that could result from the abolition of the Northwest Regional Development Agency. Will he answer a question that I asked a few weeks ago? Is the £1 billion of additional growth money from the regional growth fund in addition to or instead of money that has already been allocated to RDAs and local authorities for economic growth?

The regional growth fund is entirely separate from the RDA changes. We are keen to strengthen local economies, hence our move on local enterprise partnerships, but the regional growth fund will bring £1 billion to the hon. Lady’s region and the other selected regions. It will start in 2011 and I think it is good news.