12 March 2002

12 March 2002

Q8 Alison Halford:

 Will the First Minister make a statement on his visit to BHP Billiton’s visitor centre in Talacre, in my constituency? (OAQ16196)

The First Minister:

I visited BHP Billiton’s visitor and processing centre in Talacre, and flew, by helicopter, over the Douglas oilfield where its platform and support vessels are located. One of the happiest possibilities we discussed during the visit—and you cannot have known this unless you have 20/20 foresight, Alison—has come into being this morning. The company has announced the transfer of most of its head office employees from London to your constituency, and, in addition, some 85 additional high-class office jobs will now be relocated in north Wales.

 

Alison Halford:

 I had 19/20 foresight, First Minister. You and your team should be congratulated if you had anything to do with—and I am sure that you did—this excellent piece of news. I congratulate you on it and north Wales welcomes it.The First Minister: There are many steps to be taken in moving towards the knowledge economy, and this is an important step on the way. The 85 head office-type jobs, of which Wales is so short—with the pay, earning ability, and spending power that they bring with them to the area—add to what has happened in Ewloe with Unilever, and in Degannwy with Robertson Research International Ltd, which has been there for some time. These are high-class employers in north Wales, and more will come if we promote the virtues of Wales. We must be able to make advertising use of the fact that a major international and multinational resource company, such as BHP Billiton, which has an Australian and Dutch background, has decided to put the bulk of its UK head office in north Wales—if it is good enough for BHP Billiton, it could be good enough for your company.

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