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Inward Investment

Volume 727: debated on Thursday 9 February 2023

17. What steps her Department is taking to help increase the level of inward investment into the UK. (903583)

The UK’s total inward investment stock is the second highest in the world, having recently passed £2 trillion. As the Secretary of State outlined, we want to make the UK the undisputed top investment destination in Europe, attracting high-impact, high-value investment into our strategically important sectors which will make a real difference to the UK economy. We are facilitating both Government-to-Government and industry investment. The UK-UAE sovereign investment partnership will bring £10 billion to key UK sectors. Likewise, the Moderna partnership will support our research and clinical trials infrastructure, building a state-of-the-art vaccine manufacturing centre and creating over 150 highly skilled jobs in the UK. Compared to 2020-21, last year —2021-22—the estimated economic impact of foreign direct investment projects supported by the Department for International Trade increased by 82% and the number of new jobs by 53%.

Minister, why are the answers so long? We have not heard the rest of the questions yet. I have a big list.

Burnley and Padiham are already home to some brilliant international businesses, such as Safran Nacelles, Paradigm Precision and Futaba Manufacturing among many, many more. Together, they support thousands of local jobs. To make our area even better, we want to attract more investment, helping businesses already here to grow and attracting new ones in. Will the Minister agree to meet me to talk through how we can make Burnley the best place to invest in Britain?

I think my hon. Friend, in promoting Burnley so much, has already made it the best place to be doing business. Burnley has a global reputation for manufacturing excellence. The companies that he references demonstrate the attractiveness of his constituency to investors across the globe, and the free trade agreements make it easier for investors to bring capital and create jobs in Burnley. And, of course, we would be delighted to meet him.

The Minister references the life sciences sector, which is so important for future prosperity, particularly in and around Cambridge. We are in danger of falling behind in the race for international investment, as evidenced by the fact that since 2018 we have fallen from fourth to 10th in hosting late-phase clinical trials. What are the Government doing to address that issue?

On clinical trials specifically, when I was life science Minister we commissioned a review of clinical trials—we knew that was a blockage—but I do not think the data he presents reflects the £1 billion Moderna deal we have just secured, including the deal with biotech. The fact that we have life science missions will enable us to attract more attention and work to the ecosystems we have here in the UK, including in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency. I am more than happy to work with him, because life science is one of our key exports of expertise.

I recently had the honour of welcoming the Prime Minister to Keighley, where he had the opportunity to visit Teconnex, a global leader in clamp technology that also provides battery storage to help commercial and industrial facilities to become more energy-independent. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that with businesses such as Teconnex in my constituency and other world-leading businesses right here in the UK, we can be seen as a more attractive place for foreign investment?

My hon. Friend proudly represents Teconnex as a firm in his constituency. The Department is keen to support all businesses that seek to invest or expand in the UK, particularly those that can help to spread jobs and opportunities across the UK and help us to deliver net zero. The Department is working across Government; we have previous Business Ministers here, and we are very close to the automotive sector and the supply chain. The new Department will ensure that there is a single, coherent voice for business inside Government to help my hon. Friend to represent business in his constituency.

The investment in Moderna will not be worth anything if we do not have the precision temperature-calibrated machinery to help with that development. SK Wiring in Denton is the UK’s only manufacturer of that high-tech wiring. It stayed open during the pandemic, even though it lost 70% of its industrial trade, to keep the covid vaccine going and keep the NHS going. It is now at risk of closure. Can we have an urgent meeting so that we can keep this critical national infrastructure developed in Britain?

Within the life sciences missions, manufacturing is a key point. I was at the life sciences conference in San Francisco when we finalised the deal with Moderna. Of course this is not about playing politics; I am more than happy to meet the firm in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, because vaccine manufacturing will be a key growth area for us.