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Inward Investment

Volume 536: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2011

7. What recent discussions she has had with (a) ministerial colleagues and (b) others on the work of UK Trade and Investment in promoting inward investment in Wales. (81786)

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues, UK Trade and Investment and others on promoting inward investment in Wales. I have met the new chief executive of UKTI in the last month and yesterday I met the senior investment adviser for Wales as part of continuing discussions better to promote Wales to potential investors.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. The Select Committee on Welsh Affairs recently heard from the chief executive of UKTI, but he, like our Committee, is still waiting in hope for his first meeting with the Welsh Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science. Given that surprising fact, and the fact that the Secretary of State herself has met the Committee and UKTI many times, what advice can she give the Welsh Business Minister on pushing the respect agenda and the interests of Welsh business?

My hon. Friend knows that I try to give encouragement to the Welsh Labour Minister for Business, rather than giving her advice, but I am pleased that the Welsh Affairs Committee is investigating trade and investment, and I look forward to giving evidence to the Committee next month. I continue to hold a series of meetings to see how we can assist and work with the Welsh Government to improve those figures.

But is not inward investment always a second best? Brace’s bakery, an indigenous Welsh firm with its headquarters in Crumlin, took over an inward investment company in my constituency that was about to close down. On Monday, Brace’s increased its work force by a third, so will the Secretary of State give her congratulations and support to indigenous Welsh companies, and ensure that the rest of the country enjoys the great merits of Brace’s breads and Welsh cakes?

Now the hon. Gentleman is tempting me; I always like a good Welsh cake. He should know how much I encourage indigenous Welsh companies, not least by my continuous support of the Fast Growth 50, which celebrates indigenous companies and the way they grow the economy, but he must not do down inward investment. In 2010-2011, 38 inward investment projects led to the creation of 2,444 new jobs and safeguarded another 1,100 jobs in Wales. I think that is pretty important and certainly not second best.