Home Page

Column 611

House of Commons

Wednesday 15 June 1994

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[ Madam Speaker-- -- in the Chair ]

Oral Answers to Questions


Bosnia --

1. Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking in conjunction with the Bosnian authorities to ensure that all those involved in the murder of Paul Goodall are brought to justice.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hogg) : The killing was a dreadful act and a tragedy for Mr. Goodalland his family and I would like to say again how very sorry I am for all those who have suffered from the loss. We continue to press the Bosnian Government to conclude without delay their investigation into the murder. Our charge d'affaires in Sarajevo has raised the matter with the Justice Minister and the Deputy Interior Minister as well as with the judicial authorities in Zenica who will be responsible for any legal action.

Mr. Prentice : I thank the Minister for that reply, but does not he appreciate people's real concern that not enough is being done to pursue the matter with urgency ? Will he confirm that, for two months following the murder of Mr. Goodall, there was little or no contact between the Overseas Development Administration and the Bosnian authorities ? Will he ask the Minister to press the Bosnian authorities to release a report on the progress of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the escape from custody of Mr. Abdul Algatani, who is one of the alleged assassins of Paul Goodall ?

Mr. Hogg : The Government have, indeed, been pressing the Bosnian authorities to conclude their investigations. It is highly desirable that we should know more about the circumstances in which Mr. Algatani escaped. It is important to keep in mind the fact that, in many respects, Bosnia is in a state of anarchy, and that stands in the way of the usual prosecution of such matters. We will, however, continue to press the Bosnian authorities.

EU Budget --

2. Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made to prevent fraud within the European Union budget ; and if he will make a statement.

Column 612

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory) : My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has announced a joint action proposal, under title VI of the treaty on European Union, to combat serious fraud against the Community budget. The European Commission has also recently tabled an anti-fraud strategy, which is under consideration by the Council.

Mr. Evennett : I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Does he agree that the level of fraud and waste of taxpayers' money in the European Union is unacceptably high ? Does the Maastricht treaty allow any additional powers to help combat such abuse and misuse of public funds ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I agree with my hon. Friend. Fraud is still far too prevalent in the European Community and we are determined to do something further about it. The answer to my hon. Friend's question is yes : the Maastricht treaty gives additional and important powers to the European Court of Auditors and an assurance that its observations and recommendations will be acted on. In addition, the European Parliament can interest itself further in this issue, and I very much hope that it does.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : Can there be any justification at all for the Commission's failing to publish the report which it has on fraud in member states ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We believe that such documents should be published if their publication would enhance the action that we and the Commission together are taking against fraud.

Sir Peter Hordern : I welcome the additional powers given to the European Parliament to question the Commissioners about fraud, but, in view of the extensive fraud that has proceeded for so many years, is not it necessary to make it a condition that grants from the European Commission are not given to member countries until all cases of fraud have been cleared up ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My right hon. Friend makes an important suggestion and he will be pleased to know that, at our insistence, the new regulations governing the structural and cohesion funds now insist on proper prior appraisal of projects, a value-for-money test and subsequent scrutiny to ensure that the money has been properly applied.

Ms Quin : Is not it the case that, in the Council of Ministers last year, the Government tried to argue against increased expenditure in respect of fraud, and that, in doing so, were at odds with their own MEPs, who voted in the European Parliament for the package of further measures against fraud ? Does not that show once again that the Government are frequently at odds with their own MEPs in Strasbourg ? The Government are presumably absolutely delighted at Labour's sweeping victory last week because they now have fewer of their own MEPs to disagree with.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : An increased number of Labour MEPs is extremely bad news for the cause of budgetary discipline in the European Union. However, I can assure the hon. Lady that the Government give the very highest priority to cracking down on fraud in the Community. We are satisfied that the anti-fraud unit, both in the Commission and in this country, is properly and

Column 613

adequately staffed. But such problems are not dealt with simply by throwing more money at them. Budgetary discipline must apply to the strategy against fraud as it does to every other area of expenditure.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a very good thing that, in future, recalcitrant Governments--and it is in such Governments and not within the Community itself that most of the fraud takes place--will be fined in addition to having to return the money ? Does he agree that that will have a salutary effect, particularly on the Italians who have already had to cough up quite a lot of money ? In response to my hon. Friend's European Parliament observation, as he well knows, the European Parliament keeps a very close watch on such matters through the Committee on Budgetary Control which saves the Community hundreds of millions of ecu.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My hon. Friend makes the important point that the Maastricht treaty brings in fines against member states that fail to live up to legislative obligations.

Rwanda --

3. Ms Glenda Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the British Government intend to take in respect of the situation in Rwanda.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd) : We are joining fully in international efforts to bring a halt to the bloodshed. On 8 June, the Security Council approved the deployment of an expanded United Nations force. We are keen and ready to provide logistic support and we are looking with the UN at ways in which we can contribute. Since the start of the crises in Rwanda, we have given over £11 million in humanitarian aid.

Ms Jackson : I thank the Minister for that reply. Does not he agree that, in the light of the news that reached us early today of another fearful massacre--this time of 60 young boys--and of a letter that was pushed into a journalist's hand by the citizens of Kigali who are begging for help because they believe that they will be slaughtered at any minute, the Government should be bringing pressure to bear to ensure that the 5,500 troops are deployed immediately and not phased in in that war-torn country ?

Mr. Hurd : The sooner the better, I agree. However, those troops must be equipped and transported. Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Congo and Mali are all African countries which have offered troops. The secretariat is seeking to match the equipment and transport with the troops. As I said in my original answer, we are in close touch with it about what help we can give, for example, by providing trucks.

Mr. Lester : Has my right hon. Friend had a chance to consider the Secretary-General's observations on the state of the United Nations in respect of Uganda, in which he admitted that the international community had failed in its responsibility and used words such as "deplorable", at least to describe its reaction ? What thoughts do the Government have in respect of trying to adjust the United Nations so that it can deal with such situations, which are becoming all too prevalent ?

Column 614

Mr. Hurd : My hon. Friend said "Uganda", but I think he meant Rwanda. The UN had a force there. The Security Council concluded at a certain point that the force was at severe risk and that it was no longer doing a useful job. It was therefore reduced in size. There were second thoughts and it was decided, as the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson) pointed out, to redeploy an increased force. That is now happening. These are matters of extraordinarily difficult judgment in a civil war. It is not easy for the Security Council or the Secretary-General to decide how and when to intervene. We fully support resolution 925, which provides for the force of 5,500, and we will do our best to see that it happens.

Dr. John Cunningham : Is not the response of the United Nations in the face of this horrendous tragedy deplorably slow ? Why was a resolution agreed to authorise a force but not one to deploy it ? Why did it take several more weeks to agree to the deployment of the force ? Why has that force still not been fully deployed ? Tragically, the momentum of the slaughter continues while the laggardly pace of the international response is dismaying communities all over the world.

Mr. Hurd : The Security Council decides that a force should be sent. The Secretary-General then has to find member countries that are willing to contribute troops ; then he has to find the equipment and transport to get them there. Of course, that should happen more quickly ; it depends on the response of nation states, and it always will.

Italy --

4. Mr. Streeter : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on United Kingdom relations with Italy.

Mr. Hurd : They are excellent.

Mr. Streeter : I thank my right hon. Friend for his extensive reply. Does he agree that the newly elected right-wing Government in Italy show every sign of being a strong new ally to our country in our crusade to fashion a European Union in accordance with the wishes of its people--not a single superstate but a family of independent sovereign nations trading and working together ?

Mr. Hurd : It is early days, but my hon. Friend is right. The new Italian Government have made clear their strong commitment to open markets and their desire to avoid unnecessary regulation from Brussels. I warmly welcome that approach. I look forward to welcoming the Italian Foreign Minister here before the end of the month and to working closely with him.

Mr. Winnick : Why does not the Foreign Secretary understand that what happened recently in Italy makes a mockery of all the efforts by the allied troops to liberate Rome 50 years ago this month ? Instead of appeasing those fascists, why does not the Foreign Secretary say that many people in this country--the large majority--view with disgust the fact that such fascist swine are now included in the Italian Cabinet ?

Mr. Hurd : The hon. Gentleman is indulging in patronising and offensive nonsense. The Ministers have been democratically elected and properly appointed. [Hon. Members :-- "So was Hitler."] The Labour party is making a

Column 615

fool of itself. I shall be interested to know whether Labour Members' attitude is endorsed by those on their Front Bench. Having looked at the individuals, the programme on which they were elected and the posts that they occupy, we believe that it is right to co- operate in a friendly way with the new Italian Government--the new democratic Italian Government--as with the last. I am ashamed of the intervention from the Opposition Benches.

Mr. Batiste : Has my right hon. Friend had the opportunity to discuss with his opposite number in Italy their choice for the next President of the European Commission ?

Mr. Hurd : Only in very general terms.

Dr. John Cunningham : As the right hon. Gentleman has asked for my response, he shall have it. We want nothing to do with neo-fascists, whether they are in Italy or whether they are the neo-fascists of France who were the only supporters of the right hon. Gentleman's opposition to the social chapter. I hope that he feels comfortable in the company of neo- fascists ; we certainly do not. Will he tell the House whether it is his intention to share membership of the European People's party with neo- fascists--yes or no ?

Mr. Hurd : That is certainly not a matter for me. On the first point, before the right hon. Gentleman goes any further down the foolish path adopted by his Back Benchers, will he please look at the members and the programme of the Allianza Nazionale, which is now part of the Italian Government ? Will he look at what they stand for and how they were elected ? If he does that, he will find that it is very foolish to go further down the path that I have already described as patronising nonsense.

Treaty Ratification --

5. Mr. Trimble : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he has to change the procedures related to the ratification of treaties.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We have no plans to change our procedures for ratifying treaties to which we are signatories.

Mr. Trimble : I am sure that the Minister will agree that it is no longer realistic to regard the other member states of the European Union as foreign countries and that, as a consequence, it is no longer realistic to regard agreements entered into--such as any that might arise out of the intergovernmental conference in 1996--as foreign treaties with which the House need take little concern. Would it not therefore be sensible, well in advance of 1996, to amend our procedures for the ratification of fundamental agreements with other member states so that they can be thoroughly discussed in the House before, during and after any such conference ? That would ensure that the House is not asked again to deal with fundamental constitutional matters on a take-it-or-leave-it basis and forced to act as a rubber stamp.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I do not think that I accept the hon. Gentleman's reasoning. Any future treaty of similar importance to the Maastricht treaty will be brought before the House before the country ratifies it.

Column 616

Mr. Marlow : Given that a single currency would mean taxation decided centrally and a unified single European state, can my hon. Friend ensure that if any such treaty were brought forward on the basis of a single currency, the ratification process would be such that that treaty could not be ratified in the United Kingdom? Even better, could he make sure that there is no ambiguity in the minds of the British people after the election results last week ? They do not want a single currency and the Government should not want a single currency.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The Government's position is clearly set out in the Maastricht treaty and its protocols. My hon. Friend should have been pleased, and I believe is satisfied, with the opt-out from the requirements of stage 3 achieved by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Mr. Foulkes : Is not it true that the Maastricht treaty, which the Government forced through on a three-line whip, and the Single European Act, which they forced through on a three-line whip and a guillotine, are the two most centralising treaties since the treaty of Rome, and that for the Government to pretend that they are not in favour of centralisation within the European Union is hypocrisy which brings this parliamentary democracy into disrepute ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : No. The centralising tendency in the European Union, although supported by the Opposition parties, was checked in the Maastricht treaty which, for example, enshrined the subsidiarity principle in treaty law for the first time.

South Africa --

6. Mr. Spring : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on United Kingdom relations with South Africa.

Mr. Hurd : We will continue to give full support to President Mandela and his transitional Government of National Unity as they consolidate a stable democracy in South Africa. We should develop and expand our political, economic and commercial relations with South Africa to the benefit of both countries.

Mr. Spring : Given the considerable opening up of opportunities following the cessation of sanctions against South Africa, can my right hon. Friend assure the House that all help and encouragement will be given to British exporters to access that growing and important market in order to capitalise on the excellent relations that exist between the United Kingdom and South Africa ?

Mr. Hurd : Yes, indeed. Our exports to South Africa were £1 billion last year and £295 million in the first quarter of this year : it is still an expanding trend. We warmly encourage that. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will go to South Africa next month with a large party of senior business men to urge that expansion forward.

Sir David Steel : Does the Foreign Secretary agree that, following the formation of the new Government in South Africa, we should look forward not only to their full participation in the Commonwealth but to their playing a leading role in the South Africa Development Co-ordination Conference, where they will be joined by the new democratically elected Government of Malawi whose

Column 617

President will be visiting London for the first time tomorrow ? Is not southern Africa, in contrast to some other parts of the continent, becoming a new region of hope ?

Mr. Hurd : I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. There is a long way to go in countries such as Angola and Mozambique, but we certainly warmly welcome the return of South Africa to the Commonwealth on the first day of this month.

Dr. Howells : Is the Foreign Secretary aware that during his recent visit to this country, Vice-President de Klerk expressed concern that South Africa should not now be treated as a former trouble spot but should be left well alone to get on and solve its problems ? The economic future of South Africa will be tied up with those of half a dozen nations to the north of it and South Africa requires the maximum amount of help from the United Kingdom and the European Union. Will the Foreign Secretary ensure that the European Union is made aware of the importance of helping South Africa to sort out its economy and the economies of the countries that lie to the north of it ?

Mr. Hurd : Yes, indeed. We and the forthcoming German presidency have already laid plans for that. The Germans are to take various initiatives on behalf of the European Union during the second half of this year. I agree with the hon. Gentleman--one of the most important ways is trade and I look forward to the initiatives very much. We have been urging a new agreement between the European Union and South Africa to facilitate trade.

Sir Jim Spicer : My right hon. Friend has already said that one of the major problems about deploying troops in Rwanda is the lack of logistical support. Would not it be appropriate for South Africa to be approached, as a country which will be coming back into the Commonwealth in the very near future, and asked to provide that logistical support, which it could do far more easily than almost any other country in the world ?

Mr. Hurd : I am happy to say that South Africa is already back in the Commonwealth. My hon. Friend made an important suggestion and I will see that the Secretary-General of the United Nations considers whether there are requests that he could make to South Africa that he has not already made. We are helping the South Africans in one of their main tasks, which is bringing the different armed forces in the country together into a more united national army. A British military assistance and training team, made up of 31 people with a brigadier, is established there for that purpose.

Rwanda --

7. Mr. Hanson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Rwanda.

11. Mr. Burns : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current situation in Rwanda.

15. Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution Her Majesty's Government are making to end the killing in Rwanda.

Column 618

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd) : As my right hon. Frienthe Foreign Secretary said a few moments ago, we are playing a full part in efforts to bring about a settlement in Rwanda and are providing substantial amounts of relief for the large number of refugees displaced by the fighting.

Mr. Hanson : In supporting the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson), may I ask what actions the Government are taking with regard to food and emergency equipment for the 1 million-plus refugees resident on the Tanzania-Rwanda border ? That situation cannot be tolerated and all help must be given by the Government.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : My right hon. Friend mentioned that bilateral aid of £11 million has been paid since the start of the crisis. It is helping mainly with refugees and with the collection and burial of bodies, including those in Lake Victoria. An Overseas Development Administration team recently visited the region to assess the situation at first hand and will return there in early July.

Mr. Burns : Does my hon. Friend agree that this country is sickened by the grotesque slaughter of men, women and children in Rwanda and that it must end as soon as possible ? Will he also confirm that Britain is the fourth largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping forces throughout the world and that the Government will use their influence within the UN and the international community to do all that they can to bring an end to the ghastly slaughter as quickly as possible ?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Everyone must agree with my hon. Friend's words. I confirm that we are the fourth largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. We cannot be accused of default on that ground. All along, we have been very active in calling for effective and swift United Nations action in Rwanda.

Mr. Cohen : Did not the Government make a mistake in April when they effectively voted in the UN Security Council for UN disengagement from Rwanda, reducing troops there to just 270 ? Should not they have been pressing then--as they should now--for the establishment of safe areas in that country and for the forces to secure them ?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the Secretary -General submitted his report on 2 June following those Security Council decisions in April, and on 8 June there was a further vote to adopt resolution 925 and endorse the arrangements for the deployment of the expanded United Nations Aid Mission in Rwanda--UNAMIR--which is the situation that we now face.

Mr. Jessel : Is my hon. Friend willing to comment on the world's attitude to the colossal number of murders and missing persons in Rwanda ? Let us suppose that 500,000 black people had been murdered by white people or vice versa--the world would rightly have been in uproar. But if 500,000 black people are killed by other black people the world seems to regard it as not quite so important.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : My hon. Friend has expressed his opinion, and we are doing everything that we can in our way to bring about a change in the dreadful events. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, seven African

Column 619

countries are contributing troops and five countries--including ourselves--are prepared to help with logistical support for those troops.

Mr. Clapham : Is the Minister aware that, in opening the meeting of the Organisation of African Unity, President Mandela said that the Rwandan situation was a stern rebuke for us all and that it reflected on a crisis of leadership ? Does he agree that that reproof goes far beyond the African continent to those countries in Europe which have encouraged the Rwandan regime to spend money on arms, rather than to develop services for its people so that there would be some harmonisation in the country ? Will he urge the UN to ensure that there is a tighter formulation to govern the behaviour of those countries which export arms, so that we might be able to prevent future Rwandas ?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman that a crisis of leadership in Britain is responsible for the situation in Rwanda. He is suggesting somehow that the British Government are responsible. We are doing what we can, as my right hon. Friend and I have explained in the most careful terms, to bring about a change in the dreadful situation.

Mr. Anthony Coombs : Given the fact that the appalling atrocities in Rwanda are exacerbated and made possible by the large amount of arms that are available--it is estimated that sub-Saharan Africa is importing in the region of $7 billion worth of arms every year--is not there a strong case for making any aid to those countries dependent upon their military spending and the proportion that it takes of their GNP ?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. Clapham) should be aware that the appalling slaughter about which we have read in Rwanda is not the result of arms sales by western or other countries. The crudest weapons, which would be available in any agricultural society, are being horrifically used in the terrible slaughter.

European Union --

8. Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's relations with other members of the European Union.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We enjoy excellent relations with other members of the European Union.

Mr. Jones : Is not it clear that the Government's vacillation on policy on the European Union was decisively rejected by the British people in last week's elections ? Has not the Foreign Secretary ducked out of the question because his party had one of the biggest political drubbings of modern times ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : The Labour party was desperate to try to keep the elections focused on every issue except Europe. The Government are certain that, when we engaged the electorate on the European issues, we had the right policies which struck the right notes.

Mr. Waterson : Does my hon. Friend agree that in the recent European elections, there was a significant move

Column 620

against the kind of socialism and centralism supported by the Opposition in those countries where the electorate seemed to have focused on the European issues ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : My hon. Friend is right. It is noticeable that the other Opposition party with a centralising manifesto and a willingness to abandon the national veto--the Liberal Democratic party--failed conspicuously to live up to its expectations.

Mr. Hoon : Does the Minister remember the Foreign Secretary describing the idea of a two-speed Europe as a disaster ? If so, how does he reconcile that with the Prime Minister's call for a multi-speed Europe ? Surely a multi-speed Europe must involve at least two speeds ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : There are two speeds in Europe--we are in the fast lane and the Opposition parties are in the slow lane.

Mr. Forman : What are the Government's relations with France and Germany ? Are they good or improving ? Do the Government intend to work closely with those two Governments in the next year or so, since they will be in the chair of the European Union ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We have extremely good relations with both countries. We had a succesful summit with the French Government last year, and a recent one with German Ministers in London. As my hon. Friend reminded us, the French and German presidencies of European Union are coming up and we intend to work closely with both countries on a wide range of issues.

Mr. Benn : Will the many policy statements made by the Prime Minister during the European elections be formally tabled by the British Government at the Council of Ministers and at heads of state meetings that will occur during the next few months ?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : All the policy pronouncements by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister represent a known British position and will, of course, be discussed with other member states during the coming months.

Japan --

9. Mr. Hayes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department is doing to attract more inward investment from Japan.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Alastair Goodlad) : Attraction of more inward investment is a high priority for our embassy in Tokyo and consulate-general in Osaka, which work closely with the Invest in Britain Bureau of the Department of Trade and Industry and with regional agencies. We shall soon open a new office in Nagoya for inward investment and trade promotion.

Mr. Hayes : Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the new massive investment from Honda in the United Kingdom ? Does he agree that it is yet another tribute to the success of our missions abroad ?

Mr. Goodlad : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I greatly welcome Honda's announcement of a further investment of £330 million in the United Kingdom, which confirms its continuing commitment to this country as a base for its car-making operations in Europe. The

Column 621

Government will continue to work with the company to ensure the success of its United Kingdom operations and its many British suppliers.

Mr. Enright : Can the Minister name a single Japanese firm that does not fulfil the social contract ? In fact, is not the contrary true ? All Japanese firms fulfil and more the social contract and, indeed, the majority look for monetary union.

Mr. Goodlad : There are 200 Japanese manufacturing companies in this country covering a wide range of industries from electronics to consumables. Their working practices vary, as do British ones. We have made it clear that the social contract, which provides greatly increased legislative powers for the European Community in employment and social policies, would lead to damaging European Community laws being imposed in the United Kingdom. They would add to costs, cut competitiveness, destroy jobs and deprive United Kingdom employers and employees of their rights to decide the employment conditions that firms can afford. It is because this country is extremely competitive, whereas European competitiveness is declining in the world, that we have more than 41 per cent. of Japanese investment in the European Community.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton : While very much appreciating the tremendous importance of Japanese investment in this country, may I ask my right hon. Friend to accept that the Government should spend as much time seeking investment from other countries, because to do so provides us with opportunities to do business with those countries ? Inward investment from Japan is important, but other countries should not be ignored, as they provide us with equal if not better opportunities.

Mr. Goodlad : My hon. Friend is correct-- that is precisely what the Government do. In 1992-93, at least 303 inward investment decisions were made by foreign companies, which created or safeguarded more than 56,000 jobs. Since 1979, more than half a million jobs have been created by overseas companies. In 1991, overseas companies provided 17 per cent. of all manufacturing jobs in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Rogers : Hon. Members on both sides of the House applaud and support the efforts of the Government to obtain inward investment, especially for the north-east and for south Wales, where the Labour- established Welsh Development Agency has been extremely successful. Does the Minister believe that the same number of inward investments, 303, would be made in a semi-detached Britain--a Britain condemned to Europe's slow lane ?

Next Section

  Home Page