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Inward Investment

Volume 602: debated on Wednesday 18 November 2015

Almost exactly one year on from the UK investment summit in Newport, inward investment figures for Wales show the best performance for a quarter of a century. This is no coincidence. With the support and assistance of UK Trade & Investment and the UK Government, Wales continues to provide a world-class offer for foreign investors.

Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating all the workers in Wales who make it such a brilliant place in which to invest? Does he agree that this record investment shows that the Government’s long-term economic plan is working?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. The economy in Wales is getting stronger, thanks partly to new inward investment. Just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of welcoming Israeli investors to south Wales, where they announced £3 million of new investment, creating almost 100 new jobs. We should all be encouraged by the fact that inward investment in Wales is back to the level of the days of the Welsh Development Agency before the Welsh Labour Government abolished it.

I am pleased to hear the Secretary of State welcome the more than 100 inward investment projects in Wales in 2014-15. Will he now congratulate the Welsh Labour Government on making it possible?

The important thing is to welcome the more effective partnership that now exists between the UK Government and the Welsh Government to deliver the inward investment. Of the new projects coming into Wales, 87% were secured on the basis of co-operation between the Welsh Government and the UK Government, and I have no hesitation in congratulating both.

High-quality transport infrastructure is crucial to attracting inward investment. I was therefore delighted to see the Under-Secretary at the rail summit in Llandudno last week. Will my right hon. Friend convey to his colleagues in the Department for Transport the clear message that came out of that summit that north Wales regards itself as part of the northern powerhouse and demands an electrified railway line?

My right hon. Friend has been a powerful champion and advocate for investment in transport infrastructure in north Wales. The summit that happened last week was very important, and the Transport Secretary has received loud and clear the message about the importance of investing in transport in north Wales.

Welcome though the figures are, the Secretary of State will acknowledge the important contribution of higher education to inward investment. Is he satisfied that UKTI is fully aware of what is happening in Welsh universities? That would give it more ammunition to promote the very good story of Wales.

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. We have some world-class higher education institutions in Wales that are at the cutting edge of innovation. It is a reminder to us to keep reminding UKTI of the importance of that, and how higher education links into business growth in Wales.