Skip to main content

Enterprise Zones

Volume 551: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2012

I am strongly committed to working with the Welsh Government to encourage private sector investment and growth in Wales, including promoting enterprise zones in Wales.

Is it not important to have a much closer working relationship between the Governments in London and in Cardiff in respect of enterprise zones, so that we can make faster progress in creating jobs and wealth in Wales?

My hon. Friend is exactly right: it is vital that the two Governments—the UK Government and the Welsh Government in Cardiff—work together on a range of issues, not least the success of enterprise zones. I am committed to doing that, and I look forward very much to my first meeting with the Welsh business Minister, Edwina Hart, which is to take place shortly.

The Minister will be aware that having the Bristol enterprise zone alongside the tolls on the gateway to the south Wales economy is a major impediment to inward investment and growth. Will he therefore ask Treasury colleagues to commission a study to see whether a reduction in the tolls would be more than compensated for by an increase in income tax resulting from new jobs created by inward investment?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is to discuss tolls on the Severn bridge with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport this afternoon. No decisions have been made beyond 2018, when the current concession ends. Clearly there is a lot to discuss in relation to how we maximise the benefits of inward investment in Wales.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the objectives of the Cardiff Central enterprise zone are much more likely to be realised now that the coalition Government have granted £11 million to the city of Cardiff to make it one of the most digitally connected cities in the world?

My hon. Friend is exactly right: the £11.7 million that we have made available to Cardiff to support its development as a superconnected city will make it one of the most digitally advanced cities in the United Kingdom, and we look forward to that helping to leverage new business investment into the city.

I very much welcome the Minister’s positive words about the Welsh Assembly Government’s work with enterprise zones and, indeed, full co-operation on measures to help the economy, but will he join me in congratulating Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on creating 1,700 youth jobs in the past six months, in an effort to tackle the scourge of underlying youth unemployment in Wales? Will he tell his Cabinet and Front-Bench colleagues how Wales is leading the way in this and that they should never have got rid of the future jobs fund?

I thank the shadow Minister for that question. I welcome any new jobs being created that will tackle long-term youth unemployment in Wales. I am just disappointed that she has not welcomed today’s news that unemployment has fallen in Wales, employment is up and worklessness is down.

12. Enterprise zones are a fantastic success in England, but their success in Wales has been somewhat limited. Enhanced capital allowances can play a significant part in attracting inward investment to enterprise zones, so is my hon. Friend somewhat disappointed and dismayed that the Welsh Government have not sought to communicate with the Treasury about where they would like to bring this tax advantage in Wales? (122197)

The discussions about the use of enhanced capital allowances in conjunction with other forms of regional aid are continuing with colleagues in the Treasury, but we look forward very much to seeing specific proposals from Welsh Ministers on how they envisage enterprise zones developing in Wales.

The most enterprising company in my constituency, Biotec Services International, is being prevented from developing because it cannot get export licences for growth hormones from the Home Office. I have written to the Home Office. Will the Minister take an interest in this matter so that this unique Welsh company does not lose its opportunity to grow and develop for Wales?

I am concerned to hear that from the hon. Lady. I note that she has written to the relevant Minister, but if she would like to write to me as well, I will certainly look into the matter and see that she gets all her questions answered.