Manufacturing Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th March 1994.

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Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley 12:00 am, 9th March 1994

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the average investment per employee per annum in manufacturing in the period from 1987 to 1991.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

During the period 1987–91, investment per employee in manufacturing averaged £2,700.

Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley

Despite progress, does my right hon. Friend agree with the aims of the National Manufacturing Council for the need to double investment in the next few years? Does he further agree that there has never been any excuse for investment such as our competitors achieve, because of the increased level of profitability that this country has had under this Conservative Government and the previous one?

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

I very much welcome the work of the National Manufacturing Council of the CBI and am much encouraged by the ambitious targets that it has set. I agree that the present economic statistics are as favourable as I can remember.

Photo of Jim Cousins Jim Cousins , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Does not the President of the Board of Trade realise that the figures for investment per employee depend on the number of employees? Is he saying, therefore, that the 600 Pirelli workers in the cable factory at Eastleigh, who lost their jobs last year because there was no house building to support their cable production, were part of a cunning plan to improve British statistics?

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

The hon. Gentleman will know that a major change is going on as British industry achieves higher levels of productivity. He would serve his country far better if he recognised the need to do that, and stopped making ridiculous party political points out of the exercise.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin , Colchester North

In promoting investment, may I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his speech last week in which he complained of Euro-sclerosis? Is not Euro-sclerosis bad for British investment? Will he join me in congratulating our right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on maintaining the blocking minority in the Council of Ministers to stop damaging legislation coming—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. That does not relate one jot to the main question. The President will reply to the first part of the question, please.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for his reference to the Stockton lecture that I gave last week. It is vital that the whole of the Community addresses the issue of competitiveness. From that we will all gain.