Inward Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 18th December 1996.

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Photo of Lady Olga Maitland Lady Olga Maitland , Sutton and Cheam 1:50 pm, 18th December 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the major inward investment projects in Scotland in the last six months. [8135]

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

We have attracted 45 inward investment projects to Scotland over the past six months. It would be impossible to list them all, but I shall mention some. They include projects by: Allied Precision, Appryl, Bermo, CWW Logistics, Hyundai, IBM, Instrument Specialities, Level Nine, Lite-On Technology, PM Support Services, Polaroid, Quintiles, Roche, Rohr, Smart Modular Technologies and Techdrill.

Photo of Lady Olga Maitland Lady Olga Maitland , Sutton and Cheam

I congratulate my hon. Friend on a massive vote of confidence in the Conservatives' management of Scotland. Does he agree that it would be a cruel trick to follow Labour's proposals to saddle such successful industry with a tartan tax, a social chapter and a minimum wage? Those measures would destroy jobs and deter future investment. Surely the people of Scotland will vote the right way and ensure that Labour never has a chance there or in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

My hon. Friend is right. We have been successful with inward investment because investors recognise the possibility of locating in Scotland and being competitive in world markets. The seasonally adjusted unemployment figures for Scotland released this morning show a reduction of 7,900 people, down to 7.4 per cent. That has happened because Scottish business is competitive.

Saddling Scottish business with increased taxation, through the tartan tax or the trade tax—taking the uniform business rate away and giving control back to Labour local authorities that appear intent on putting costs up—would be counter-productive. Those measures, together with the social chapter and the minimum wage, would be disastrous for Scottish companies. If we want unemployment to continue falling and inward investment to continue flowing into the country, we must provide the right economic conditions for business to succeed. Only this Government can provide that.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

How much taxpayers' money went on those 45 projects?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

The hon. Gentleman is aware that the figures for the regional selective assistance offered to each project are given in the Edinburgh Gazette the quarter after the grant is taken up. The figures are not disclosed at the time of granting, because projects put forward for regional selective assistance have commercial sensitivity. It would be wrong to disclose—

Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty , Falkirk East

The Minister obviously does not know.

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

The hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Connarty) is prattling from a sedentary position about my not—

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

Order. The hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Connarty) has been constantly prattling from a sedentary position since we started. If he expects to be called to put a question, he might contain himself now.

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

The hon. Gentleman's prattling from a sedentary position shows his ignorance about how inward investment is attracted to Scotland and how jobs are created in Scotland. If he spent a little more time considering his party's policies, he might get a little further in succeeding in keeping people in Scotland and keeping investment flowing in.

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr

I welcome the fall in unemployment in Scotland—from 7.8 per cent. to 7.4 per cent. —that has been announced today. What proportion of that fall could be attributed to inward investment, and how much to the uniform business rate and its beneficial effects on small businesses? Does my hon. Friend agree that changing the uniform business rate—as the Labour party wants—would be a disaster for those who want to be employed in Scotland?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

My hon. Friend is right to concentrate on the uniform business rate, because businesses, particularly small businesses, in Scotland have been crying out for it and are pleased to see it. They now have a level playing field throughout Scotland and England.

The Opposition's policy of returning the uniform business rate to local government control and linking it to an increase in band D council tax—the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) does not seem to have decided on the speed with which he will implement it should he ever be able to do so—would have increased business rates for small businesses in Glasgow by 20 per cent. last year. I doubt whether such a policy is good for unemployment. Small businesses would suffer severely under the Labour party's policies.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Liberal Democrat Chief Whip

I acknowledge that Locate in Scotland has been very successful in the past six months or so, but does the Minister accept that there is concern that the financial arrangements that it has put in place to achieve that success have been at the expense of some of the other budgets available to local enterprise companies? Will he give an assurance that there will be no top slicing, which would result in other parts of Scotland paying the price for the recipients of Locate in Scotland's excellent work?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

The hon. Gentleman knows that regional selective assistance, for example, is equally available to indigenous companies. He has drawn the situation in the borders to my attention on numerous occasions. As he knows, I visited the borders in August and talked to Borders Enterprise, which will be putting its case to Scottish Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise is responsible for looking after inward investment and, more important, indigenous companies.

Photo of John McFall John McFall , Dumbarton

The Government have our support in attracting inward investment. The Minister knows that neither added value nor technology ventures have been very successful. What is he doing to convert inward investment into indigenous growth in Scotland? He will be aware that only 21 per cent. of the supplies of inward investors are secured in Scotland. If that figure rose by just 5 per cent., we could produce a Chungwha every year, creating 2,000 jobs. What are the Government doing in those two crucial areas?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

The hon. Gentleman has double standards. I recognise his point about attracting research and development—he should welcome the fact that some inward investors are moving research and development activities into Scotland, and we shall obviously try for more—but the Opposition's taxation proposals would be far more damaging to the prospects of a Chungwha coming to the country. Given his party's taxation regime, it is utter folly for him to talk about getting a Chungwha every year.