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Volume 551: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2012

7. What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and others about foreign direct investment in Wales. (122191)

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues about attracting foreign direct investment to Wales. I was delighted that my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, during his visit to Turkey earlier this month, announced that a Turkish steel company is to open a new factory in Cardiff.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for those comments. Does he agree that UK Trade and Investment’s global presence through our embassies and high commissions provides a huge opportunity to ensure direct foreign investment in Wales?

UKTI has global reach, with its officials embedded in every British mission around the world, and I am delighted that it is seconding two officials to the Welsh Government.

The Secretary of State will know that one reason foreign companies do not invest in west Wales is the over-burdensome planning restrictions. Will he use his influence in the Welsh Assembly to sweep away those obstacles?

I am sure that my hon. Friend was pleased to hear that the Welsh Government have designated an enterprise zone in Milford Haven. Planning is indeed extremely important for the development of enterprise zones. It is being streamlined in England and I very much hope that the Welsh Government will follow suit.

I welcome the Secretary of State to his new post—perhaps he is overwhelmed by the welcome he has had thus far. Will he encourage Ministers to look at improving infrastructure in Wales, particularly port infrastructure, on which enterprise zones such as the one in Anglesey rely? He has passed the buck to the Welsh Assembly in the past. Will he now fight within Government so that we have a level playing field with English ports?

Ports are an undevolved area. I am pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman that I regard Holyhead port as an important anchor of Anglesey’s economy and hope shortly to visit Captain Wyn Parry there.

The proposed motor sport investment in Ebbw Vale could be an employment game-changer for Blaenau Gwent. Variable investment allowances are being sought by the international development. I urge the Secretary of State to get the Treasury on board now for a fair tax treatment to help deliver the project.

Enhanced capital allowances are an extremely important element of enterprise zones. They have already been granted in the case of the Deeside enterprise zone and we are urging the Welsh Government to make appropriate representations to HM Treasury so that they can be extended to other enterprise zones, such as the one in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency.