Major acts to stop regional squabbles over investment

John Major has intervened to prevent regional development agencies in different parts of the country bidding against one another for prestige inward investment projects.

The move is understood to have been prompted by Downing Street's anxiety to avoid unseemly squabbles between rival agencies and Government departments in the run-up to the general election, particularly on projects where large numbers of new jobs are at stake.

The Prime Minister is believed to have called in ministers from the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland offices together with representatives from their regional development agencies to emphasis the need for a co-ordinated approach.

There was uproar in Scotland two months ago when it was reported that the Korean electronics giant Lucky Goldstar had decided to locate a pounds 1bn plant in Wales. William Hague, the Secretary of State for Wales, is thought to have offered a subsidy of up to pounds 150m to win the project, which could create 4,000 jobs.

The Koreans pointedly refused to confirm they had chosen Wales, although it now appears that the plant will be sited in Newport, Gwent and that an announcement is imminent.

Scotland had been bidding to have the factory built in Lanarkshire while Ireland was also a contender.

News of Mr Major's intervention came as the Invest in Britain Bureau announced its most successful year yet with a record 477 inward investment projects in 1995/96 worth pounds 7bn-pounds 8bn, creating 48,000 jobs and safeguarding a further 97,000.

In the past three years Britain has attracted 1,350 projects from overseas, creating or safeguarding 285,000 jobs.

The biggest single investment was a pounds 1.1bn project by Siemens to build a semiconductor plant in the North-east - one of 58 inward investments from Germany.

The President of the Board of Trade, Ian Lang, rejected suggestions that Britain was nearing saturation point after accounting for 40 per cent of all US and Japanese investment into the European Union.

But he indicated that the number of new investors was likely to fall, meaning that the IBB would concentrate more and more effort on overseas companies which already had operations in Britain. Expansion by existing investors accounted for 57 per cent of the 477 projects clinched last year, compared with 55 per cent in 1994/95 and less than half at the start of the decade.

Mr Lang also denied that the Euro-sceptic wing of the Conservative party was deterring overseas companies from investing in Britain for fear of it becoming increasingly semi-detached from the rest of Europe.

"I see no indication of any anxiety because the Government remains committed to Europe and the single market."

Mr Lang said that the policies of Labour would put inward investors off in droves. But IBB sources said their soundings, particularly in the Pacific Rim, suggested that companies would not be influenced by a change of government.

Their overwhelming view also was that Britain was committed to Europe and likely to end up taking part in a single currency.

Of the total investments last year 46 per cent were by North American companies while 35 per cent were from Europe and 17 per cent from Asia- Pacific.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own