Wales (Trade and Industry)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th November 1966.

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Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry 12:00 am, 14th November 1966

No, the bulk of those years were Conservative years. The bulk of those years after 1945, and the years of greatest growth, were Conservative years. I should have thought that we could start with agreement on that. [Laughter.] Does not the Secretary of State agree? The figures for those years—I have them here—show the extent of the: improvement. The economic story of Wales between 1945 and 1964 was one of outstanding success, not only in the mind of Professor Brinley Thomas, but in the mind of many others who have studied the problem.

It is important that the present Government study the methods by which the success was achieved. During most of that period, there was no threat of further nationalisation. There was every encouragement to smaller firms in all parts of the United Kingdom, and there was every effort by successive Chancellors of the Exchequer not to impose excessive taxation on industry.

Professor Brinley Thomas went on to say—this is not, perhaps, so happy— Recently, however, there have been signs, quite apart from the impact of the balance of payments crisis, that the Welsh economy is running into turbulence". I emphasise his words, "quite apart from the balance of payments crisis". He goes on: Between 1948"— this is the reply to the hon. Member for Swansea, West— and 1964 Wales' share of British unemployment was halved, from 12·9 per cent. to 6·7 per cent.". Those were nearly all Conservative years. But in the last two years"— two years of Labour Governmentthere has been a reaction, and the proportion of British unemployment in Wales has risen again to 8·6 per cent.