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Inward Investment

Volume 551: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2012

I am working with UK Trade and Investment, ministerial colleagues and the Welsh Government to improve levels of inward investment into Wales. In fact, I am meeting the chief executive of UKTI later today.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the scrapping of the Welsh Development Agency has had a negative effect on inward investment into Wales, as highlighted recently by the Welsh Affairs Committee?

It is true that under the Welsh Development Agency, Wales was regularly the most important destination for inward investment, but I support both Governments working closely together to continue to attract inward investment into Wales.

I warmly associate myself and my colleagues with the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks regarding Dyfed-Powys police and all the emergency services which are looking for little April Jones. I also congratulate the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary on their appointments.

What assessment has the right hon. Gentleman made of the loss to Wales of inward investment since the disappearance of the Welsh Development Agency brand? Who has the last word on inward investment—this Government or the Government in Wales?

It is clear, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that Wales needs a strong brand in order to promote itself around the world. It is clear also that although economic development is devolved to the Assembly Government, it needs to have the leverage that it will get from UKTI. That is why I am encouraging the Welsh Government to work closely with UKTI.

What discussions have the UK Government had with the Welsh Government about the establishment of a dedicated trade promotion agency, either sitting within the Welsh Government or as a private sector vehicle, as recommended by the Welsh Affairs Committee back in February?

I have regular discussions with the Welsh Government about inward investment, and I hope the Welsh Minister for Business is giving consideration to that.

Academic research and development and its commercialisation are key ingredients in inward investment. I am heartened that the Secretary of State is meeting UKTI later today. Will he impress on it at that meeting the excellent work that is being undertaken in Bangor, Glyndwr university, Aberystwyth and Swansea? We have a good message to sell and we need UKTI to help us to sell it.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: Welsh universities do have a good tale to tell. I would like to single out Swansea university and its science campus, which it is developing closely with British and international industry.

Disability Employment Ltd of Stoke wants to inwardly invest in Wrexham to put disabled workers sacked by this Government back to work. Will the Secretary of State come to Wrexham a week on Friday to meet disabled workers from Remploy to explain to them why the Government will not support that company?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Government’s policy on Remploy is to provide supported jobs in mainstream employment. I have had discussions with him previously about the issue. I am entirely happy to have further discussions with him if he requires. As to Friday, I cannot make any commitments as I do not have my diary. [Interruption.]

Order. There are far too many noisy private conversations taking place in the Chamber. Let’s have a bit of order for Karl MᶜCartney.