Inward Investment

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 19th March 1997.

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Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale 1:49 pm, 19th March 1997

The hon. Gentleman obviously asked the question thinking that he knew the answer. I am sorry if he found my answer disappointing and unhelpful, but the fact is that the United Kingdom has been doing extremely well. I shall give him some more figures: between 1990 and 1994, the stock of inward investment into the United Kingdom from outside Europe was 30 per cent; the comparable stock going into France was 10 per cent. I could cite many more figures.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the social chapter. That, of course, would skew the figures against Britain if we ever had to face the burden that it, or indeed the working time directive, would impose. I quote what the American chamber of commerce said to the Irish about that directive: It is no exaggeration to say that the lack of flexibility in this Bill could represent the single most negative change in Ireland's flexibility to win US direct foreign investment that has happened in the past 20 years". That is one of the reasons why we are so opposed to the working time directive that the Labour party wants to impose on us.