International Investment - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:37 pm on 17th October 2017.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Chair, International Relations Committee 3:37 pm, 17th October 2017

My Lords, I particularly welcome the better news about Bombardier. Having, ages ago, been the Minister responsible for inward investment into Northern Ireland, I can confirm that the engineering skills legacy of Belfast and indeed of Northern Ireland is colossal. From the days of Short Brothers and Harland and Wolff, when I was involved right down through the years, there has been a highly innovative and skilled operation, and I am very glad that it will be preserved and encouraged with further investment, as it should be.

On inward investment generally, I agree with my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Mendelsohn. We have to be a bit careful. We rely on heavy capital and inward investment to balance the books in this country and compensate for our colossal trade deficit, and we need to avoid any implication that we are somehow turning against being an open house for most inward investment, although there obviously have to be some safeguards. Can my noble friend reassure us about one area that he mentioned—civil nuclear power? The nuclear scene is dominated by both foreign ownership and foreign inward investment and support, not least for Hinkley Point C, which will survive and prosper only with heavy Chinese help and involvement. Can he assure us that nothing that has come out today will get in the way or cause further disruption of our already rather difficultly placed nuclear programme? It is not going well now and will go even worse if we cut out foreign investment.