asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the future employment position at Kenfig, Glamorgan, having regard to the fact that over 500 men have been given notice that the Distillers Company will cease to manufacture carbide there in two years' time; and what plans he has to find employment there for these men.
I understand that the Distillers Company's carbide factory is to close in two years time and that the employees, including a small number of women, will be discharged. The company has said that it will make every effort to find alternative employment for its redundant workers and the full facilities of our Department will be available to all who seek our help. I am not prepared to forecast the position in two years time.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the widespread anxiety in mid-Glamorgan not only about this closure but about suggestions of possible redundancies at the Steel Company of Wales? In view of this and the recent closure of the Prestcold plant and the fact that the birthrate in Port Talbot alone is running at 1,000 a year, will he consider as a matter of urgency with the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Power setting up a special inter-departmental committee to study the employment needs of the area?
I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade is prepared to encourage suitable new developments employing women and young persons in this area. Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that Messrs. Steinberg recently announced their intention of establishing a clothing factory in the Pontypridd area to give employment to 400 workers. This is a valuable development.
Since when has his right hon. Friend been willing to give this special encouragement? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the employment offered by Messrs. Steinberg is not suitable for any of the men employed at the Distillers' factory?
What matters is that my right hon. Friend is now prepared to give it. The hon. Gentleman will agree that employment prospects for men in the area are good, but that employment prospects for women and young persons have been less favourable. On the whole there should now be reasonable prospects for these people.