I beg to move,
That this House takes note of the Report on Wales for 1968 (Command Paper No. 3930).
The House will miss today the attendance of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt), who customarily speaks for the Opposition on Welsh affairs. I know that all hon. Members will be sorry to hear that his absence is due to ill health. He is one of the most kindly and courteous Members of the House. We all wish him a speedy recovery.
We are glad to welcome back the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). He is an old friend of ours and once carried responsibility for Welsh affairs. The right hon. Gentleman and I have crossed swords many a time and no doubt, with good fortune, we shall again. I am glad to see him back at his place.
This year, the debate on the Report of Government activity in Wales takes place much earlier than has been customary in recent years. The Government have done their utmost to meet the wishes of both sides of the House that the debate should be conducted at a date nearer the publication of the Report than has proved possible for some years.
Obviously I cannot today deal with the whole contents of the Report on the Government's activity in Wales. I trust that the House will allow me to begin by referring to the increased powers which have been given to the Welsh Office since 1st April. This transfer of powers marks a most substantial advance in devolution of power from Whitehall to Cathays Park, Cardiff. Ever since the Welsh Office was established in 1964, this Government have taken consistently positive action towards sensible devolution of functions. Needless to say, it is a source of enormous pleasure for me that the Welsh Office has been entrusted with these greater responsibilities at this time.
I turn to our responsibilities for health. The new health and welfare responsibilities bring to us responsibility for almost 200 hospitals and over 35,000 workers in their employ. The record of the hospital service in Wales in 1968 makes fascinating reading. No fewer than 300,000 in-patients were cared for, and even then at the end of the year some 29,000 were awaiting treatment. Nearly 800,000 of our fellow countrymen were new out-patients who had to be dealt with—30 per cent. of the population of Wales. Last year the cost of our hospital service was over £52¼ million, and for the current year an additional £4 million has been allowed. I am glad to say that of this £56¼ million no less than £8¼ million is for capital development.
In recent weeks it has been my privilege to visit many of our hospitals, and I gladly pay tribute in which I know the House will share, to the high sense of dedication and loyalty which I found in every hospital that I visited. These high ideals are not only found amongst members of the staff who often work under difficult and unfavourable circumstances but also are evident among the large body of men and women who give their time and services voluntarily, both on the Regional Hospital Board and on the hospital management committees. We cannot measure the debt that we owe to those who belong to the League of Friends of particular hospitals. I hope that the day is not far off when every hospital in Wales will have its League of Friends. I urge every community in Wales to make sure that no hospital in its area is neglected by them.
Local authority health and welfare services also come within the field of our responsibilities. In the current financial year I expect to spend £13½ million on these services, and in addition to issue loan consent for nearly £2 million for capital development.
The third broad category comprises the general medical, dental, pharmaceutical and ophthalmic services. This year I expect the cost of these services to be in the region of £22½ million.
Not the least important of the new responsibilities are the provisions by the local welfare authorities of accommodation and welfare services for the old, infirm, and the physically handicapped. To these I attach tremendous importance.
The House may like to know that the total expenditure on the Health Service in Wales has increased from about £55·3 million in 1963–64, when we took over, to £83·5 million, an increase of more than 50 per cent.
I turn to agriculture. The change here means a full involvement of the Welsh Office in the working out of agricultural policy affecting Wales and in the administration of our agricultural affairs. In future Welsh farmers will deal with Welsh Ministers. Also, when appointments are made to bodies of agricultural importance in Wales, Welsh Ministers will be the guardians of Welsh interests.
Let it be clear that although we shall deal with grants and subsidies in Wales, and also now help to shape agricultural policy for Wales, we have in no way reduced the effectiveness of the National Agricultural Advisory Service, the Agricultural Land Service, or the other professional, technical, and administrative services, available to agriculture in England and Wales. Our great advantage in being part of the United Kingdom is that we share these joint services. We shall have the double advantage of deciding our own affairs and yet sharing in the specialist knowledge, in the computer services, in the work of experimental husbandry farms, and in other ways.
Before I leave agriculture, I know that the House would like me to say something about the Rural Development Board. The House will be aware of the conclusions at which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and I arrived after the most careful study of Sir Ben Bowen Thomas's Report on the public inquiry into the objections to the draft Order for establishing the proposed Board. I take this opportunity of expressing publicly our thanks to Sir Ben for a most helpful and constructive Report. My right hon. Friend and I greatly admired and appreciated the sympathetic, wise, and understanding way in which Sir Ben conducted the inquiry througout its 44 days.
Officers of the Ministry of Agriculture's Land Service are now engaged in redefining the boundary of the proposed area to take account of the changes recommended in the Report, and which we have been glad to be able to accept. Discussions with individual farmers and landowners will, of course, be necessary, and every effort will be made to avoid, where this is practicable, severing single blocks of land that are in one ownership or occupied by one farmer. When this has been done, and a modified boundary finalised, we shall then submit a draft Order for the establishment of a Board. This Order will require an affirmative Resolution in both Houses of Parliament.
We know that some honest misgivings remain about the powers and functions of the Board, but I am confident that when the Board is actually in existence and operating in the way in which the Government intend, it will provide the foundation for a more prosperous future for rural Mid-Wales.
A Bill on tourism is passing through the House, and when it is approved—
The new powers which have come to the Welsh Office are extensive and will make tremendous demands upon those who serve us in the Department. I believe that it would be a mistake to add another major Department at this stage. But the end of the road has not been reached. This is a further milestone which I believe has been welcomed throughout the Principality.
When the Bill on tourism is approved by the House I shall have the statutory right to appoint a Board in Wales to look after our major tourist industry, and I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who will seek to speak later, will, if necessary, develop the question of tourism.
I intend tonight to make only a brief reference to housing, because I want to deal in depth with our economic development in Wales. However, what I want to say, although brief, is well worth saying, and well worth hearing.
During the period of office of this Government nearly 90,000 houses have been built in Wales. We have broken all records in providing homes for our people. The houses are there as visible evidence of the success of our policy. While our emphasis is now moving to the improvement of our older houses, we none the less appreciate the need for a continued high rate of building for houses. One of our major problems in Wales in housing is that there are thousands of old, solidly built houses which are basically sound but which need modern amenities. I hope that this year, when the present Housing Bill is through the House, there will be the beginning of a massive attack in this field by our Welsh housing authorities, when they will be able to deploy the higher grants, and new grants, which we propose to make available.
I am not trying to deny the strength of the housing figures, but can the right hon. Gentleman explain how it is that 1,600 fewer houses were under construction in December, 1968, than in December, 1964? That is a very big drop.
I have known the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) a long time and I regret to say that he does not improve with the passing years. [Interruption.] Gracious me! The hon. Gentleman is my next-door neighbour. We have come to a sorry pass if we cannot be rude to our next-door neighbours. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the figures, he will see that, for the past three years, we have reached an all-time record in the building of houses in Wales.
Expenditure on the construction and improvement of trunk and principal roads in Wales amounted last year to nearly £13 million compared with £11½ million in the previous year. In the current year, our estimate provides for expenditure of over £14 million, which will be a new record for Wales. Our roads programme is rapidly expanding. This will be appreciated when I tell the House that expenditure on our roads in the four years before we came into office was £66 million but in the four years since we have been in office has been over £110 million, and is still increasing.
Since the end of last year, a major section of the New Midlands road, between Mitchel Troy and Raglan, has been opened to traffic. Work has started on the first stage of the Cardiff-Merthyr Trunk Road and on the Raglan to Usk length of the New Midlands Road. In July, I hope to open the St. Asaph bypass in North Wales.
Parallel with all this expansion we spent over £3 million last year on smaller improvements which eased local bottlenecks and improved safety—and no one can move about Wales without seeing evidence of this work under way.
The extension of the M4 was added to the preparation pool just over a year ago. This is a plan for 17 miles of dual carriageway road of motorway or near motorway standard running from Gabalfa in North Cardiff Westwards to near Bridgend. This is probably the most important single scheme in the Welsh trunk road programme, since Cardiff is the major bottleneck to through traffic in Wales, lying as it does on the busy A48 road.
I have decided that this scheme must have first priority in my road construction programme. Of course, we must go through the usual statutory procedures before work can begin. However eager we all are for the M4 extension, no one has a right to ride rough-shod over the rights of individuals whose lands and homes may be affected. It is important that persons affected should have a chance to make their objections known and to have them fully examined. Nonetheless, I hope that these statutory processes can be completed by 1972–73 and I have made this a definite target date for beginning the actual construction work on the road. I hope that industrialists who are considering coming to South Wales will take this announcement, which is a major announcement, as an indication of the Government's determination to get this road built as quickly as possible.
The Welsh Council, under the chairmanship of Professor Brinley Thomas and the vice-chairmanship of Sir Alfred Nicholls, has sent a deputation to me about this road and has made strong representations. I hope that it will share in the pleasure at this announcement of my hon. Friends who have been pestering me in the House.
Is my right hon. Friend not also aware—I think that he should be—of the other bottlenecks in some of the valleys of South Wales, particularly since the Heads of the Valleys Road was opened? Does he know of a worse bottleneck than Merthyr Tydfil and Merthyr Tydfil Valley? The trunk road Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil-Brecon, Builth, Wells and Pentrefoelas in North Wales has been on the Statute Book since 1945.
I take note of what my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. S. O. Davies) said. There are, unfortunately, many improvements still awaited in Wales, but we must choose our priorities. The position now is that a complete new dual carriageway road of motorway or near motorway standard extending the M4 by 27 miles from Newport to Bridgend is already either in the firm programme or in the preparation pool, while three further lengths of motorway beyond Bridgend totalling about 15 miles are in addition also in the firm programme or preparation pool.
The preparation pool now contains over twenty schemes. In addition to those which I have mentioned, there are others such as the Carmarthen Southern By-pass, with its new bridge over the River Tywi, and three schemes on the A55 road in North Wales which will make major contributions to the improvement of communications throughout Wales. We shall press ahead with the preparation of all of them as quickly as possible and as quickly as our resources allow.
I turn to the question of leasehold. The House will know that I have taken a deep and personal interest in this subject and that for many years when on the back benches I pursued it in the House. The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East and I are old opponents on this question. He was a great champion for Western Ground Rents in the old days. He declared that there was no evidence of hardship caused by the leasehold system. But that was a long time ago.
Our major reform which was so disliked by the Conservative Party on the ground that we were wrong to say that the house belonged to the leaseholder has become law. The leaseholder no longer has the anxiety that one day his house may be claimed by the ground landlord. Our leasehold measure has liberated the leaseholder from that fear and insecurity.
I am aware that recent decisions by the Land Tribunal have caused some concern. It is of particular interest that the first two cases concerning South Wales leaseholders will be heard by the Land Tribunal next week. The House and the people of Wales may be assured that no one will follow with closer interest than I shall the decisions which are reached in these two cases.
The Government are already studying the implications of the earlier decisions, because leasehold reform means much to us. But I hope that what I have said will satisfy leaseholders throughout the country that the Government are aware of their concern at the recent decisions. We all await the outcome of the Tribunal next week.
I do not want to mislead the House, but I believe that it is in Cardiff.
I turn to the subject of sewerage. It has been a disappointment for me that, due to our continuing need to moderate the growth in capital expenditure, I have had to ask for many sewerage schemes to be deferred. Nonetheless, more sewerage schemes are now being undertaken in Wales than ever previously. In 1963–64, when we came into power, loan consents allowing a scheme to go ahead totalled some £3·4 million. Last year that figure had risen to over £8 million. The total consents for the four years from 1965–66 to 1968–69 were over £24 million. That compares with a figure of some £11½ million over the previous four years. Despite our economic difficulties we are nonetheless spending more than twice as much on improvement of sewerage facilities as only a few years ago. I realise that there is much more to do, but I think that Wales should know how we have stepped up the amount of work that is being done.
I turn to the subject of water, which is an explosive subject in Wales. Economic growth in Wales requires an improvement of our water supplies. The ambitious scheme on the River Towy at Llyn Brianne is the outstanding example of works which are going on all the time. This scheme will be of particular importance to new and expanding industry at the Western end of the South Wales industrial area. In total I have agreed to expenditure on water schemes amounting to three times what was spent five years ago. That provides another illustration of establishing the right priorities in order to foster economic growth in the Principality.
Hon. Members will have noticed that the Welsh Committee of the Water Resources Board was recently enlarged and strengthened. Five more members representative of Welsh farming interests, industry and the Sports Council of Wales were appointed. Thus a fully comprehensive Welsh case can be put to and heard by the Water Resources Board. This is much more intelligent than setting up a separate statutory authority for water in Wales. The fact is that the rivers in Wales which offer the best conservation prospects straddle the boundary with England. Both geography, and the need to make the fullest use of professional expertise, clearly point to the advantages for Wales, no less than for England, of the common approach which we have adopted in matters of major policy affecting our water supply.
Surely this is not an insuperable problem—otherwise the right hon. Gentleman is doubting the justification for his own Department. The right hon. Gentleman's party advocated a Welsh Water Board at the 1964 General Election. Did they do do so in the full knowledge of what they now know?
The hon. and learned Member will, I have no doubt, try to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. May I say to him that it is the policy throughout Europe and the new world to treat rivers as a whole from the source to the mouth? The hon. and learned Member should know that when rivers straddle boundaries it is not possible to treat them as though they are national units on one side of the boundary or the other.
I know the hon. Member is greatly attracted to Switzerland and its water scheme. I want to convey to him that in these islands it is a nonsense to think that one can treat the River Severn as though it belongs in one part to Wales and in another part to England, or to treat any other river which straddles the boundary in that way.
We have made the same approach in our setting up of a Welsh Committee of the Countryside Commission. Our underlying principle is that responsibility should be shared when this would produce the best results, and a separate statutory body should be set up when that will provide the best results. Our actions in regard to the Water Resources Board and the Countryside Commission no less than our proposals for a statutory Welsh Tourist Board all indicate a realistic approach to devolution. In each case what we are seeking is to obtain the greatest benefit for Wales.
I turn to economic affairs. When I was appointed to this office just over a year ago I said that my top priority would be to seek to ensure more jobs for the people of Wales and a more diversified industrial structure in the Principality. That task is still one of my top priorities, not only because unemployment in Wales has continued to be at a level higher than the national average but also because we are still faced with a loss of job opportunities in the coal, steel, agriculture and transport industries.
The year 1968 was an outstanding year in terms of attracting new industry to Wales and the expansion of existing industry. Nearly 280 applications for industrial development certificates were approved by the Board of Trade covering nearly nine million sq. ft. of new factory space and promising over 18,000 new jobs for the people of Wales. That was the achievement of 1968 alone. This is an impressive achievement by any standard and it is recognised as such by all those who prefer to trade in facts, but it is not recognised, of course, by the carping critics who exploit grievances. But 1968 was no "flash in the pan". It was, in fact, the third succesive year of outstanding gains in industrial development certificate approvals. In the last three years nearly 24 million sq. ft. of new factory space has been approved. In these three years alone as much new factory space was approved in Wales as in the eight years leading up to 1964.
May I tell the right hon. Gentleman that on the basis of his 25 million sq. ft. approved in the last three years, probably over the next three years about five million sq. ft at most, that is 20 per cent., will actually be built? I am taking the record of the last four years and comparing approvals with construction.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman rose then, because he has fired his shot into the air to come down we know not where. I shall be able to explode his argument as I go along.
I refer, first, to advance factories. I am not proposing to go into details about them except to say that the value of this particular facet of our policy has been justified beyond doubt in the past 15 months. Last year 15 advance factories were let in Wales, and another four have already been let since 1st January this year. Negotiations are proceeding with industrialists for the letting of a further five advance factories. Such has been the success of advance factories that we have approved the building of another six, each of 25,000 sq. ft.
Advance factories have a vital rôle to play in our efforts to stem the drift from Mid-Wales, and to foster the growth of key centres. Last week it was announced that a further advance factory, of 10,000 sq. ft., was to be built at Rhayader. This is part of the strategy for expanding the town. I am pleased to tell the House that an advance factory, also of 10,000 sq. ft., is to be built at Bala on land which the urban district council has, with considerable foresight, acquired for industrial development. This makes a total of nine advance factories authorised for Mid-Wales by the present. Government, and represents a major contribution to the solution of the employment and depopulation problems of the area.
There are those who say that although we are doing better than ever before in attracting new industry into Wales we are still not doing well enough, and that other areas are doing better—in other words, that Wales is not getting a fair share of the industrial cake.
I should like to give the House some figures so that our achievements can be looked at against the background of the sum total of new industrial development in Great Britain. I shall take as a starting point the fact that the number of employees in Wales represents about 4½ per cent. of the total employee population of Great Britain. That is the basic figure—4½ per cent. I am pleased to be able to say that in the last four years the Welsh share of all the new factory space approved in Britain has been nearly 9 per cent., that is, nearly twice what our fair share is, calculated on the basis of employee population. And in this same period our share of the additional jobs expected to arise from new industrial development approved was nearly 12 per cent.
I think the House will agree that 9 per cent. of the total area and 12 per cent. of the total number of jobs compare very favourably indeed with the basic figure of 4½ per cent. of the working population.
Hon. Members may, of course, claim that there is nothing extraordinary about these figures since they simply reflect the fact that most of Wales is a development area, whereas most of England is not. Let me, therefore, consider how the Welsh development area has fared in comparison with development areas generally. The Welsh development area contains about 13 per cent. of the insured employee population of all the development areas. Thirteen per cent. is the basic figure against which we should consider our performance. In the last four years the Welsh development area secured 19 per cent. of all the new factory space approved in the development areas of Britain, and 21 per cent. of the additional employment that has resulted.
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means by "resulted"? Does he mean the mathematical multiplication per thousand feet approved of so many workers, or the net addition to industrial employment? Which?
Perhaps even more important than the quantity of industrial development gained by Wales is its quality. It is in this respect that we have seen a transformation in recent years. In the past, as hon. Members will know, a great deal of the new developments established in Wales comprised small subsidiary and branch factories of manufacturing concerns based outside Wales. I remember saying from the Front Bench opposite that we did not want dolls' eye factories in Wales; we wanted substantial industry.
The situation now is entirely different. The present Government's regional policies have brought about a dramatic change, and we now see more and more major units being established, and an increasing number of lock, stock and barrel moves by firms from England into Wales.
These acquisitions to our industrial structure cover a wide range of modern technological industries and will themselves—simply by being in Wales—generate secondary industrial activities which are such a feature of the more prosperous parts of Britain. The new industrial structure now emerging in Wales will create its own spin-off establishments further to strengthen the Welsh economy.
What is especially encouraging is that the pace of industrial development referred to in "Wales: 1968" is being maintained this year. In the first three months 82 new projects were approved, with an estimated additional employment of over 6,000 jobs to be expected.
Let me run quickly over some of the main announcements made so far this year. In January, Delaney Gallay Ltd. was allocated the 145,000 sq. ft. Board of Trade factory at Ammanford; the 50,000 sq. ft. advance factory at Kenfig was allocated to British Rotatherm Co. Ltd.; a 10,000 sq. ft. advance factory at Maesteg was allocated to John Barnsley and Sons Ltd.; and Natgas Ltd. announced a major development in the Bargoed/Blackwood area.
All that was in the month of January.
In February a 50,000 sq. ft. extension by the Board of Trade for Firth Cleveland Extrusions Ltd. at Pembroke was announced. The Board of Trade also announced that it was to build a. 60,000 sq. ft. factory at Abercanaid, Merthyr, for E. Camelinat and Co. Ltd., and Tudor Accessories Ltd. announced its 100,000 sq. ft. project at Maesycwmmer, near Ystradmynach.
In March there were announcements of a 42,000 sq. ft. extension to the Floform Parts Ltd.'s factory at Welshpool; the allocation of a 25,000 sq. ft. advance factory at Merthyr Tydfil to G. N. Burgess and Co. Ltd.; the sale to Broom and Wade Ltd. of a 25,000 sq. ft. advance factory at Ystelyfera—and an extension of 10,000 sq. ft. to the factory as well as the acquisition of adjoining land for further expansion; and a 21,000 sq. ft. extension by the Board of Trade for Pyrene Co. Ltd. in the Rhondda. Those are three good months for us to report to the House.
It might interest the people of Wales to know that today no fewer than 66,000 of our people work in factories owned by the Government—jobs that we would never have had were it not for Government policy and initiative.
These are only the main developments. There are many other smaller ones, all adding up to clear evidence of the strengthening of the economic structure of Wales. These successes can be directly attributable to the Government's regional policies, which involve strict controls on new industrial development in the congested areas and generous cash and other incentives in the development areas.
With a large part of Wales scheduled by the Government as a development area, a substantial part of Wales designated as special development areas, where even more generous assistance is available, we have indeed gained much which we would not have had if we had not had this Labour Government. The like has never been seen before. There has never been a period of industrial development in Wales comparable with what has happened in the past 15 months, not since the early days, at least since the sinking of the coal mines, and we are in a different era now.
My aim is to ensure that needs for further economic growth are met fairly and fully throughout Wales. Hon. Members will know that the Report of the Hunt Committee is in our hands and that the Government will be publishing it this week. I can say no more about this today, other than that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs will be making a statement then about the Government's aims and conclusions on the report. Assistance to industry in Wales is running at an all-time record level, and is likely to increase as the recent high levels of industrial development certificate approvals are translated into buildings, plants, machinery and jobs. Financial assistance to Wales will soar higher and higher.
Last year investment grants paid to industry in Wales totalled more than £38 million, over £31 million of it to firms in the Welsh development area. The regional employment premium and the selective employment payments were worth about £14 million to Welsh industry. In addition, about £3,500,000 was paid in respect of building grants. Over £4 million was paid in loans and general purpose grants and nearly £500,000 in training grants. This made a grand total of over £60 million and that is not the end of the story.
There were also the rent-free concessions by the Board of Trade, help for Government training centres, the deferment of colliery closures, the scheme to help redundant miners over the age of 55, the extra coal-burn at power stations and the Government's contracts preference scheme which, together with the direct financial assistance, represents a tremendous effort by the Government to help us in Wales overcome our economic problems. The tragedy is that this vital task of restructuring Welsh industry was not commenced years earlier. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite bear a heavy responsibility for their neglect of Wales.
Despite all that has been, and is being done, I recognise that we are still faced with serious problems. There is no complacency here about the problems which remain. Unemployment is too high. We are still in the throes of the loss of jobs in our older industries. The fact is that because of the failure in the early part of this decade to face up to the inevitable run down in employment in coal, steel, transport and agriculture, we have been losing more jobs than we have been gaining. The balance is firmly shifting the other way, and, looking beyond our immediate difficulties I see for Wales a prospect of great prosperity.
The new industries coming in and the new jobs being created are directly due to the fact that we are active partners with the United Kingdom. If separatists have their way and we cut adrift from the rest of the United Kingdom, then this massive inflow of capital would dry up. Wales has everything to gain by her United Kingdom ties and the Welsh people know it. Our extremist minority, nurtured on the 19th century philosophy of separatism and nationalism ought to learn the facts of life in the 20th century.
If I give way to the hon. Member I shall soon be blamed for taking too long.
Wales suffers today from too many prophets of doom, from too many who close their eyes to the facts of new industry that is in evidence around them. We should acknowledge the industrial revolution taking place in our time. The future of Wales will not be independent on its three basic industries, but rather on a diversified strong industrial base which will give security and employment to our people.
Let me assure industrialists, of whatever nationality, that the overwhelming majority of the Welsh people will offer them a warm and cordial welcome to come to live among us. During the past week I have had the privilege of touring North Wales. I met the local authorities representing Blaenau Ffestiniog, Pwllheli and the Lleyn Peninsula. In each case I was pressed to try to get more industry into the area. In Mid-Wales I recently met the Aberystwyth Town Council and in West Wales the Llwchwr Urban District Council. My experience was the same everywhere, those who carry the responsibility for the well-being of the community in Wales are not found mouthing anti-English slogans. They hold out welcoming arms for incoming industry and incoming industrialists.
Obviously it is not possible for me to cover the whole Report. I want the House to know that I am proud to be a member of this Government at such an exciting time for progress throughout Wales. We accept the challenge that more must yet be done, and it will be, and is being done. I submit to the House a record of a year's activity of which any Government would have a right to be proud.
Order. May I observe at this moment that I will not be in the Chair when the back-bench debate begins. So far some 20 hon. Members wish to partake in it. This debate has started late. I hope that those who are fortunate enough to be called early will remember those still waiting.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) and I are grateful for the kind courtesies expressed by the right hon. Gentleman when he opened the debate. My hon. Friend hopes to be back soon, after a brief illness. The House today is divided into two rather disproportionate armies. Behind me, purely geographically, there is a mixed army which is notable for one outstanding characteristic—a creative ebullience of all sorts. Opposite, on the Government benches, sit probably one of the most conscientious and admirable groups of hon. Members in this House, who have just sustained their Secretary of State with a warm cheer as he sat down, after a rather silent response to the 50 minutes of his speech, and who despite their solidity, are privately, deeply uncertain about the relevance of Socialism to Wales today. That is why I want to subject the right hon. Gentleman's so-called progress report to a little sceptical examination.
No matter how hard the Labour Government try—and they have tried very hard—to bring help to Wales, the penalty of economic muddle is paid all over the country and particularly in Wales. There has been—and no one on the Government benches would deny it—misjudgment and mishandling of our national economy over the last four and a half years. Partly as a result, as I shall seek to show, the jobs and the job opportunities in Wales have shrivelled below what they might have been.
Of course, we all acknowledge that there is a serious rundown of Wales' basic industries, coal, steel, agriculture and now transport. We know that the unemployment figures are relatively high. We know, moreover, from the figures—and the right hon. Gentleman did not comment on this—that unemployment now is not only larger in quantity but longer in endurance than it was. The proportion of those unemployed who are out of a job for more than eight weeks, which is surely the key index of the impact of unemployment on the family, is remorselessly rising. I say this in no party spirit. If we had had to deal with the aggregation of coal, steel, agriculture and transport rundown all at once, as Governments now have to, it would have taxed us too.
We had our share of rundown. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) sneers, but I am trying to be fair. We had our share of rundown just as this Government have had their share. When the right hon. Gentleman says with great humbug that he has no time for carping criticisms, may I recall the time when he and his right hon. Friends were on this side of the House. I remember much longer catalogues from the Government Dispatch Box of new industries coming to Wales being greeted with cries of "But when?" from this side of the House. We do not respond so churlishly to the right hon. Gentleman. We are glad that new industries are coming to Wales; we welcome them.
In this decade, unemployment has been 3 per cent. or less for eight out of 15 Tory quarters and for eight out of 18 Socialist quarters. In other words, unemployment has been over 3 per cent. for substantially more time under Socialists than under a Tory administration. Unemployment is larger and unemployment is longer.
The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us what his Government are doing about retraining. Perhaps the hon. Lady the Minister of State will cover retraining, because this is an important aspect of the treatment of unemployment. I hope that the hon. Lady will not flinch from telling us in considerably more detail what is the prospect on the steel front. We know the remorseless rundown of coal, agriculture, and transport, but the future of steel is buried in a certain amount of understandable obscurity. Has the B.S.C. taken the opportunity to work out the impact of redundancy in South Wales steel plants? Will the hon. Lady tell us as much as she can both about North Wales steel and South Wales steel?
I turn now to the heart of the right hon. Gentleman's claims. I hope that hon. Members will have absolutely no doubt that they were paper claims based upon paper approvals. On the whole, I am all in favour of paper approvals being a larger amount of paper each year than the year before, but it is the translation of I.D.C. approvals into actual factory completions that mattters to the people of Wales, and if the right hon. Gentleman had presented his story in terms of completions it would have been a different story. Again, it is an example of hypocrisy to make a 50-minute speech based in its economic content entirely on factory approvals, when the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that completions present a very different story.
I have analysed the contrast between approvals and completions for the Tory and the Socialist periods of office during the last nine years. I am sorry that there are eight figures to give, but they are relatively brief. Between 1960 and 1964, in the Tory period, the approvals were in aggregate for 15 million square feet, to yield 37,000 jobs. The actual building during that period was of 17 million square feet, that is more than the amount approved, and it actually provided 40,000 jobs. During the Socialist three years the approvals were for 20 million square feet to provide 42,000 jobs. The actual completions were only of 5 million sq. feet to provide 15,000 jobs.
The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to say that the first two Socialist years were a legacy from the last Tory years. That is perfectly true and it may be that that palliates the poor Socialist performance. It may be that we left the Socialists with relatively few in the pipeline. I have not examined that. All I know is that one of the largest movements of jobs to Wales inherited by the Socialists was largely pioneered by Tory Ministers—and I am thinking of Lord Brecon and Fords. I want to be as fair as I can, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not quarrel with me when I say that there is a big contrast between completions and approvals.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the past three years 53,000 new jobs have been created in Wales. Those are not paper jobs; that figure represents people working in jobs.
It may be so—jobs; but we were talking of industrial manufacturing jobs, and the right hon. Gentleman was talking about industrial approvals. I have in front of me the Welsh Digest of Statistics and for the last three years the total additional jobs provided by industrial building completions added up to 15,000, a perfectly respectable figure. The 50,000 must be the gross addition of all sorts of other jobs, some no doubt in the despised service category, but when dealing with the right hon. Gentleman's claims of industrial jobs, the digest says the number is 15,000 in the last three years.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will want to be corrected if he is wrong. I am trusting to my memory, but I believe that the allocation of the factory at Swansea by Lord Brecon was not to Fords. It was to another firm and that other firm vanished. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), as President of the Board of Trade, and I as Secretary of State, provided the factory at Swansea for Fords.
I may be wrong. I remember that my then Parliamentary Private Secretary who lost the Swansea, West seat, Mr. Hugh Rees, spent a great deal of energy trying to persuade Fords, but my memory may be slightly wrong.
There is another index by which the economic performance of the Government may be measured. The right hon. Gentleman again skirted over it. The gap between the unemployment results in Wales and the unemployment results in the United Kingdom as a whole is once again moving to Wales' disadvantage. I have all the figures for this decade in front of me expressed as over 165 per cent. of the Great Britain unemployment average or less. There were 13 out of 16 Tory quarters which qualified below that level, whereas since the third quarter of 1964 in 12 out of the 16 quarters the relationship between Welsh unemployment and Great Britain unemployment has been over 165 per cent. So the Wales-Great Britain unemployment relationship has been shifting gradually against Wales while the Socialists have been in office.
In all these economic subjects, Wales is directly in competition for industrial jobs with the South-East, the Midlands, the development areas and the "grey" areas. As the right hon. Gentleman said, we await the Hunt Committee Report. He rested heavily on I.D.C. control. We must wait and see what the Hunt Committee says about it.
We on this side of the House believe that the essence of economic progress lies in good communications, and that is why we welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State today about the M4. We believe that the key to prosperity for Wales, as for any other part of this country, rests on two main components—confidence and communication—and it is confidence, above all, which has been lacking to industry while this Government have been in office.
I remember being responsible with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) for preserving at least one important Mid-Wales line. But they were difficult decisions, and no doubt they can be criticised. However, this Government are carrying on with some of the same process because, ineluctably, all government is an exercise in priorities.
I hope not. Perhaps one sees with more detachment when one is in opposition. I have been saying all over the country that a short period in opposition, about once a generation, is healthy for a party, although I fear that the party opposite will have a great deal more.
There are some who will say, even if they accept my criticisms of this Government's economic performance, that Wales would be better off with more control of its own economy and with less economic leverage from London. I echo the views of the right hon. Gentleman. It would be ruin for Wales if she were economically separated from Britain. But, with all diffidence, I ask a question of those who are much more expert than I am in the subject of the Welsh character. Here is a people of the greatest talent, vigour and imagination, yet individually they seem to have a distaste for economic wealth-creation. There appear to be relatively few entrepreneurs among the Welsh compared with other people. It may be that this stems historically from moral attitudes, which no one can presume to judge. But let there be no doubt that, without creators of wealth to unlock the resources that lie there, no country will prosper.
That is a riddle, but we must hope that, as security becomes more accepted, people will seek less to put their children to the old familiar respectable jobs of teaching, banks and the service industries and that more will venture, as the Scots have done so triumphantly, into wealth-creaion for themselves and their neighbours.
But people poured into Wales 150 years ago to seek employment. No doubt life in England was very tough in those days, too. It is not for us here to rake back over history and attempt to allot blame. No doubt there was blame on all sides.
We are now faced with the phenomenon that Wales is not contributing through her own entrepreneurial citizens as much as other areas of Britain.
I come back to the right hon. Gentleman's speech and to a point for which for once, I want personally to take an ounce of credit. It is housing. I well remember in 1963 and 1964 conducting a personal drive to encourage local authorities in Wales to enlarge their house building programmes. The Welsh Office and I carried out seminars, which were an original form of relationship between central Government and local government at that time, to urge them forward and explain the conditions in which without damage to the rates or to rents they could enlarge their programmes. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman and his Government inherited the results of that drive.
Perhaps I might take up one point with the right hon. Gentleman. His drive in 1963–64 was identical to that of his predecessor in 1953–54 which is now being described so eloquently in the Macmillan memoirs. Both were undertaken at times when electoral difficulties were anticipated. That was the sole reason in both cases. But how does the right hon. Gentleman explain that in the 10 years between 1953 and 1963, the figure achieved by Mr. Macmillan in 1953 was not maintained? Secondly, can the right hon. Gentleman explain why, despite the fact that 1968 was a good year for local authority housing in Wales, the Tory-controlled Cardiff Council built only 461 houses, which was the lowest figure since 1946? Is that a Tory drive on housing?
If the hon. Gentleman accuses me of electoral motives in a Welsh housing drive, perhaps I might point out to him that there were many other areas in which it would have been more profitable for me to concentrate for my party than the Welsh constituencies.
On housing, I can only comment that while the figures have been encouraging, my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) was right to point out that there has been a dip. I hope that the Minister of State will explain that. In addition, the local authority mortgage situation is disastrous. In 1966, £9 million was advanced in local authority mortgages in Wales. The figure this year is estimated to be nearer £3 million.
I will not try to cover the entire waterfront. I want to finish by summarising the position as we on this side of the House see it. Undoubtedly, the Government are trying to help Wales, but Socialist centralisation and Socialist economic chaos is ruining their hopes and their performance—[Interruption.]—I will say it again. Socialist centralisation and Socialist economic chaos are destroying the results of their own hard work in Wales. As for the Tories, we are not or should not be by our nature economic centralisers. We want to see the spontaneous creation of wealth. In a Tory economy, Wales should prosper very much more than it is prospering now.
There is a good story to be told of Government activity in Wales, and my right hon. Friend has told it effectively. Regional policies are being successful and are beginning to show themselves in Wales. Credit should be given to this Labour Government for those policies, and I have no time for those who refuse to see that those policies are working effectively.
However, it must be admitted that there are still some areas which are very difficult. In the main, they are the old mining and tinplate areas of South Wales. It has always been difficult to provide our mining valleys with new industry when the coal has been taken away and mines are closing down. Rhondda is one of these areas. Indeed, it was named as one of the first distressed areas, but Rhondda today is not nearly as distressed as it was when the Tories were in power.
My right hon. Friend has mentioned the extension to the Pyrene factory at Ferndale. This is very welcome. I believe that the extension of factories that have been established in an area over a long period is better than some new industry coming in. It shows the confidence that those firms have, after serving in the area for some time.
Unfortunately, in the Rhondda there are still about 1,794 unemployed. Of these 1,435 are adult males, 276 women, 70 boys and 13 girls—just over 7 per cent. Notice ought to be taken of the effect of something which was recently done by the Government which seems to hide the real position in the Rhondda. I am not blaming the Government for doing this. It may be a far more effective way of putting the figures over. Rhondda has been merged for some months now with Pontypridd and Ton-yr-efail for purposes of unemployment figures. This has the effect of reducing the figure in Rhondda without providing another job. Note should be taken of this in trying to assess the position in the respective areas.
We have an advance factory nearing completion at Ynyshir. I hope that next month we will be able to announce that we will have a tenant to occupy this factory when it becomes available. The matter does not stop there, because we will be looking forward to another advance factory. Sites are available in the Rhondda. We have one site of 20 acres at Tydraw, another of 14 acres at Ynysyfao, a site of 9 acres at Gelli and one of 3¼ acres at Standard Colliery, Ynyshir. Whilst we do not pretend to have sites for large units of 70,000 or 80,000 sq. ft., we have these units available.
All possible efforts have been made by the Rhondda Borough Council to combat unemployment. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Alec Jones) and I were present, with representatives of the Council, at a meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to put Rhondda's point of view about unemployment. There are difficulties in areas like the Rhondda. No one need tell me that. I have lived there all my life and I know that these problems exist.
We are concerned that more is not being done to encourage further industry. It can be argued that we have the new Llantrisant Estate which is reasonably near some parts of the Rhondda, and we now have the Mint and two other factories. About 1,600 people are employed there today, whereas 18 months ago not one person was employed. This is an achievement of which we in the Rhondda and this Labour Government can be proud.
If we are inclined to build the larger units just outside our mining valleys, we must provide the roads so that people can get to them. The road communications from the Rhondda in any direction should be considered and something should be done about them as quickly as possible. My side of the Rhondda has no railway, because it has been closed. Therefore, so much more use must be made of our roads. There is urgent need for something to be done so that we can have easier ingress and egress from the Rhondda to the top and bottom ends of the valley.
I hope that before any decisions are taken about Llantrisant New Town there will be much serious consideration, because it can have a tremendous effect on our valley. It is all very well to talk about £380 million to £400 million building a new town at Llantrisant and losing all our social capital in the Rhondda Valley.
About 75 per cent. of our people own their homes. What will happen to these people if there is a drift from the Rhondda to the new town? To whom will they sell their houses? These matters must be given serious consideration before we go on with any new town in the area, at least on the site contemplated in the Buchanan Report.
What effect will it have on the labour at factories in the Rhondda? There is little female employment. If families are to move away we shall have problems in manning the factories which rely solely on female labour. We were discussing this matter this morning with a man whose firm employs 1,600 people in the Rhondda. We could do with a few more like him who could employ that number of people.
We have just introduced as good a system of lighting in the Rhondda as anywhere in the British Isles. All this has meant tremendous cost for the local authority. But all this will be lost. Our new Penrhys housing estate of almost 1,000 houses, all to Parker Morris standards, will be of no avail if this drift is created by the new town.
I know that my right hon. Friend has tried his best. I compliment both the Welsh Office and the Board of Trade for the tremendous efforts they have made in providing employment in the Rhondda. I ask them to continue providing us with the work to keep the people in our valleys.
I wish now to say a few words about leaseholds. It is necessary to have another look at this problem, because it is causing great difficulties to many people who are being given totally unrealistic offers and cannot find the money to go to the Land Tribunal. We must investigate this and, if we cannot change the method of appeal, we should find a way of providing legal aid for our people to go there.
A matter which is causing great concern in Rhondda and which has united more people of almost every shade of opinion than anything in Rhondda's history is the threatened closure of our hospital and casualty unit at Llwynypia, which has a long tradition. I know that the Secretary of State knows this, because his own mother served on the committee of that hospital at one time. The possible closure of this casualty unit is something which the Rhondda people will not tolerate. It has united chapels, pubs, clubs, teachers. All organisations have come together in a committee to say that under no circumstances will they permit this casualty unit to be taken away from a valley of 97,000 people.
I and my colleague have received more letters, telephone calls and representations on this than on any other matter since I entered the House nearly 10 years ago. With my colleagues from Rhondda, West—both the late Iowerth Thomas and the present hon. Member for Rhondda, West—I have met almost every Minister of Health since this plan was brought forward. We have raised it so many times that we are fed up with hearing the name.
What is the real problem? No one would quarrel with the concept of a large base hospital to serve a catchment area of about 150,000 people, but we should also consider all the circumstances. All the Ministers of Health to whom we have spoken have admitted that the East Glamorgan Hospital is in the wrong place. It was never intended to serve the area of Rhondda and its 97,000 people. Indeed, in 1965, as a result of representations which we made, the then Minister of Health directed that the casualty department at Llwynypia Hospital should be maintained. It seems illogical to me, to my hon. Friend and to the people of Rhondda that this policy should be changed when the needs are the same.
We are told that this change of policy resulted from the report of the Plewes Committee, which was set up as a result of a breakdown in the casualty unit, not at Llwynypia, but at East Glamorgan. The Committee investigated for a total of one and a half days and then its report was accepted by the Hospital Board and by the Minister. I want to know why the report was never published. After all, if the needs of a new unit like this have been investigated, the people have a right to know what the report is. Would my right hon. Friend consider publishing it?
I hope that he will also publish the report which the consultant orthopaedic surgeon has now made, and which, I understand, is being accepted by the Hospital Board. These are questions which the people of Rhondda are asking. I have argued from the beginning, as has my hon. Friend, that, in the unusual circumstances of the Rhondda, the Llwynypia casualty unit should be continued for the 24-hour service.
The roads from Rhondda to East Glamorgan are very difficult. Indeed, just after Christmas a twelve month ago, my wife was taken seriously ill and was taken to East Glamorgan. Three times in a fortnight I was unable to visit her because the roads were impassable. What hope is there for ambulances in those conditions? We are told that, because of the strain on our ambulance services, the county council cannot extend them. I am sure that the Secretary of State will consider these things when making his decision.
I am seriously disturbed by what I read on page 99 of the Report:
The Welsh Hospital Board appointed a consultant who carried out his own survey of the accident and emergency services and made a report to the Board. In his report, the consultant refers to his conclusion that the only effective way to develop a first-class accident and emergency service to the Pontypridd and Rhondda area is by centralising this service at the East Glamorgan General Hospital. He recommends the building of a new accident and orthopaedic centre for the area at the district general hospital, and concludes that eventually the casualty department at Llwynypia hospital must be closed, since he does not think it possible to man two casualty units in the area. He considers, however, that the unit should not be immediately closed in view of the difficulties its closure would present and the strain it would place on the ambulance service. He envisages the rôle of the Llwynypia unit during the interim period to be that of a first aid unit, supporting the main unit with restricted hours of opening. He warns that shortage of medical staff may on occasions prevent the functioning of the unit even on the limited basis proposed. The Welsh Hospital Board has accepted these recommendations. The Minister has considered them, but before reaching a decision asked for further information on the operation of the Llwynypia and East Glamorgan units.
This is very disturbing to me, to my hon. Friend and to the people of Rhondda.
In effect, it is saying that Llwynypia Hospital is to be closed—
I should like my hon. Friend and, through him, the Rhondda people, to know that, although the Welsh Hospital Board has accepted that report, there is no Welsh Board of Health. It has disappeared. I met my hon. Friend and his colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Alec Jones), just a fortnight ago and I repeat the assurance that I gave that no decision has finally been taken about Llwynypia Hospital. I do not see the necessity for a decision to be taken for some considerable time ahead.
I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend. This is something about which the Rhondda people feel deeply and I have tried to put it to him. I accept what he said, that he met our deputation and gave us a courteous hearing. Later there was a meeting of the representatives of the people. I am satisfied that our case will receive consideration. I hope that in the end we in Rhondda, with a population of 97,000 people, will be able to maintain this service which is so important to the people of the area.
The Secretary of State in his opening speech gave a number of figures and statistics which were somewhat at variance with those which were advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). It reminded me of the old adage that people tend to rely on statistics for support rather than for illumination. I give him one figure for illumination rather than for support. During the years 1951 to 1964—and this fact can be established—there were built in Wales during our term of office some 2·8 million sq. ft. of factory space. In the period 1965 to 1968 the average amount of factory space built has been 1·8 million sq. ft. I do not see how that can be reconciled with some of the assertions which have been made to today.
I wish to concentrate upon two aspects of the economic problems and to comment on the grotesque situation which has arisen in South-East Wales, affecting Cardiff, Newport and Barry, because of their continued exclusion from the Welsh development area. There are also the tremendous problems in the South Wales ports closely related to the other problems of that area.
No, I am not referring to that. I am referring to the amount of factory space which was created during those respective years. The scope of the Welsh development area—I hope that the Secretary of State will consider this matter since his own constituency is affected by these enormous problems—has accentuated the difficulties and problems of the excluded areas. I refer not only to South-East Wales, but in some respects this also affects North-East Wales.
The effect has been particularly severe in Barry, Cardiff, Newport and in the adjoining districts. These are not towns and areas with long records of sustained prosperity. During the last 12 months the unemployment percentages for Cardiff and Barry have approximated to the employment percentages for the Merseyside development area and for the South-Western development area. Unemployment in Cardiff and Barry has constantly been rather high.
The town of Barry was built predominantly to meet the additional needs of coal exports. I need hardly remind the House how serious have been the consequences of the decline of coal shipments. The trade of the port of Barry in 1913 was more than 11 million tons. By 1950 it had fallen to 2,845,000 tons, and last year the figure was only 1,277,000 tons.
Efforts have been made to develop the port for general cargo traffic. Geest Industries Ltd. with their bananas, Cory Brothers Ltd. and other companies with their oil products, Meggitt and Price Ltd. with their timber. I cannot stress too greatly the value of such industries, but there is a serious need to replace the old coal shipments.
If we are to increase effective shipments, there is a need to widen the entrance of Barry Dock, which is a deep water harbour not greatly dependent on tidal changes as is the case with most other docks. Two service industries in the town—the boat stores and the supply reserve depôt of the War Office—have both gone.
We have had to rely almost entirely on a declining docks and on the major industries of B.P. Chemicals Limited, Midland Silicones Limited, and some others. It has been a hard battle for Barry Council, for associated bodies and for industrialists who have made noble efforts to expand the trade of the docks and of the town. They tried to develop an industrial site known as Ty-Verlon, but the firm of agents which was appointed, which is internationally known, said, "It will be impossible for us to do an effective job in such a wide development area which includes even places like Caerphilly." There has been a loss of small firms from Barry which has been noted by the council. Some firms have gone only a short distance, but the effect on Cardiff has been serious. I therefore wondered whether the figures which we have heard take account of the movement of firms out of Cardiff. Even before this year started this movement involved 30 firms with large rateable values. This year I believe that some seven or eight have gone—if not a great distance—over the mountains to Caerphilly and Llantrisant.
I do not know whether the development area policy was meant to be an incentive to induce firms to leave Cardiff and Barry in order to go to Caerphilly or similar adjacent areas. This is a serious matter for my constituents.
I said that about 30 firms had left the Cardiff area before the beginning of the year. I believe that another six or seven have left the Cardiff area since then. Some have gone only as far as Caerphilly; I know that certain commercial firms have gone to Bristol. I think the number is comparatively small, but the policy for the industrial area was not framed merely to induce firms to move a distance of seven or eight miles. It will be serious for the Barry, Cardiff, and perhaps, in due course, Newport areas if firms are lost in this way. We will merely be trying to strengthen the more difficult parts of Wales by weakening the potentially strong points in the Welsh economy.
I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman's anxiety to see greater capital inestment in the Barry docks. Does he appreciate that if the Conservatives had been in power the Bristol-Portbury scheme would have gone ahead and that that would have been disastrous not only for the Barry docks but for the other docks of South Wales? Is he also aware that prominent Members of the Opposition are busy at weekends emphasising the fact that if the Conservatives were returned to power there would be an expansion of the docks based on Bristol?
We will get nowhere if we argue about the Bristol docks as opposed to the docks in South Wales. There may be a case for voluntary association between these docks. In fact, considerable money has been spent on the ports of South Wales in recent years. However, little has been spent on Barry Docks compared with other ports, despite the fact that Barry has great potential, for special reasons, and offers a valuable return on capital invested. For example, it has the supreme advantage of a deep-water entrance. When the hon. Member intervened I was referring not only to the docks but to the loss of industry, a loss which I fear has been induced by the very size of the development area of Wales. Our unemployment figures in the Cardiff and Barry areas are sometimes as high as those in some development areas, which is why certain of those areas might be excluded. Alternatively, the excluded areas could be included for development area status. Either way, there is no case for incentives being used merely to enable firms to move short distances. These are serious problems. There is a grave loss of rate income and there is already a tendency for the population to decline.
Leaving aside the question of the docks, the chief industry of the area, the steel industry—which includes such firms as Guest Keen—is under a cloud because of the rationalisation of the steel industry. This means that in the coastal strip of South Wales we have a state of affairs which is causing deep concern to all the local authorities and to all those connected with the future of these areas.
In raising the question of the future of the ship repair areas, I appreciate that some of this issue is outside the administrative control of the Secretary of State. The ship repair industry of South Wales has been doubly hit because of the exclusion of Newport, Cardiff and Barry from the development area and because all the other ship repair areas are within development areas. This means that ship repair work carried out in, for example, the North-East, is likely to benefit from the financial help given to the development areas, including the assistance of the regional premium.
The Secretary of State said that the Hunt Committee would report shortly. I hope that some positive solutions and policies will be framed for the areas about which I have been speaking. However, whatever the Hunt Committee proposes, the Government must take the decisions. I urge that help be given to the south-east part of Wales because the situation is becoming serious. We cannot afford to wait a long period for these decisions to be made. While trying to strengthen the general economy of Wales, it would be folly to weaken the one part of Wales which seems to hold out the best prospect of becoming a truly solid base for advancement.
Some commercial firms have their own reasons for tending to centralise on Bristol rather than on South Wales. I do not wish to be parochial in this matter, but I urge the Secretary of State to appreciate that this problem is causing concern and I trust that he will keep it in mind.
The hon. Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. G. Elfed Davies) referred to a hospital in his constituency. As the Secretary of State knows, I have a similar problem in my area. It affects the Barry Accident Hospital which serves a wide area, including dangerous roads such as the road at Wenvoe. It also serves the R.A.F. establishment at St. Athan and the airport at Rhoose, in addition to the whole area of South-East Glamorgan. Local feelings about the possible closure of this hospital are as strong as those described by the hon. Member for Rhondda, East.
It would seem that there is a disposition to solve the problems of hospitals by centring large units in large cities, making it all the more difficult to get patients in for emergency treatment. With all our traffic congestion in Cardiff, as in other great cities, I should have thought it would be an absurdly dangerous step to close down an emergency hospital of this kind which treats a very large number of cases annually. This is a somewhat localised problem, like the one referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, East, but nevertheless it is one which locally is deemed to be of tremendous importance and consequence.
As my right hon. Friend said, we are pleased at every improvement in the economic picture described by the Secretary of State, but let him not forget that a great part of Wales can never be mainly industrial. There are sections of the Principality which still rely heavily on agriculture. There are sections outside the development area which rely on tourism; and in these areas the increased Selective Employment Tax is a very severe blow. It is a severe blow to that part of South-East Wales to which I have referred, because many of the industries in Cardiff, Barry and Newport are service industries. The Government have now increased the impost on these industries which is another savage blow at a part of Wales which is already facing serious difficulties; so I hope the Secretary of State will protest or will in some other way within the Cabinet seek to reverse the effect of this further increase in Selective Employment Tax on a part of the United Kingdom which is still not solidly prosperous, and which can ill afford to bear an extra impost of this kind.
It is already evident that one of the problems in a debate on Wales is to deal with a specific subject, because so many topics are thrown up in the debate. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on that remarkable performance at the commencement of the debate in reciting all the achievements of the Labour Government for Wales in a comparatively short space of time.
One is tempted to deal with a number of subjects but for the sake of brevity and for the sake of hon. Members who wish to speak it is my intention to deal only briefly with one aspect of industrial development planning and to develop to some extent something referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. G. Elfed Davies). I wish to make some observations in relation to industrial development planning in South Wales in particular, and I am sure that my hon. Friends the Members representing constituencies in Mid-Wales and North Wales will excuse me if I do not refer to areas for which they are far better able to speak than I.
We are hearing a lot about Severn-side development and development on the coastal strip. The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) referred briefly to that. Now, at this late stage, there is consideration of a proposal to erect a New Town in the Llantrisant area. I must say at once, in all sincerity, that it is completely beyond my comprehension how so-called experts can, in these days, go on plugging the alleged advantages of these proposals after the lessons which we should have learned from development in south-east England and the chaos in consequence of that development. If there is not a halt to the development of these proposals, we who represent South Wales constituencies will be blamed by posterity for the ensuing chaos. If Severn-side development and development of the coastal strip is to continue, and if we are to have a new town in the Llantrisant area, there will be within 20 or 30 years a vast conurbation stretching from east of Newport and west of Cardiff into the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan.
This is no parochial attitude. Growth is taking place, and will take place, in the areas fringing the coastal strip. There is no need to encourage it. In one area there is what I may call industrial indigestion. When we create great sprawling conurbations such as those which exist in the Manchester area and in the South-East, we are not creating houses which are homes, as G. K. Chesterton said some years ago, and, as I would say, too, populations which are communities. That is vital. The social cost to produce this chaos will run into hundreds of millions of £s. Those of my hon. Friends who favour this development are very shortsighted, because the social amenities and, which is much more important, the communities already exist in the valleys of South Wales, and those who know them appreciate how vital those communities are.
In my own county of Glamorgan, excellent schools are being built, despite the shortage of funds. Industrial sites are being developed. This social capital which we are spending and which in many ways we can ill-afford to spend may well be wasted. Planners who simply spend their time working at the drawing board or examining ordnance sheets should spend a year or two in the industrial valleys so that they get to know the communities and appreciate the subject of human relations.
It is gratifying that at long last there is a salutary halt to this development. Recently, in Cardiff, there was a special conference organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers to consider the problem of linear development in the valleys of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. I viewed it with great hope. The Institution did not do this in any parochial sense. It realised the community value of these areas. It realised the strategic value in an economic sense of the areas north and south of the valleys. This has proved to be invaluable to the industrial development of Wales.
I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State say that development of the M4 road from Newport westwards was to go ahead. It is important that when it by-passes Cardiff it should go as far north of Cardiff as possible to link up with the valley roads, with their vital links with the Midlands.
Those of us who travel to the House of Commons early in the mornings, as most of us have to do, feel sorry for the commuter who has an hour's journey each way every day. Some people have a journey of two hours each way, often in crowded conditions. This is happening in the valleys of South Wales and Monmouthshire. Should not we try to do something to halt it? Do we want a repetition there of what is happening in the vast South-East conurbation?
Last week I attended an industrial exhibition in Central Hall. I spoke to one exhibitor about the attraction of industry to an area which was already bursting at the seams. I asked him, "Why do you want industry to go there? We want industry in the hinterland". He said something which I have heard on many occasions: "We are providing thousands of jobs for the men in the valleys. They come daily to our area". What an approach—to induce industry to go to an area which is already bursting at the seams with industry and to deprive the areas from which the workers are drawn of their skills.
I am glad that we have a Secretary of State for Wales whose knowledge of the South Wales valleys is unsurpassed. It is equalled only by that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths). I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, with his knowledge of the valleys, will do all that he can to reverse the trend. I am encouraged that the Welsh Office realises the great potentials of certain of the valleys in the north around the Heads of the Valleys and the southernmost tips of the valleys. I trust that added to this will be the sympathetic appreciation of the Board of Trade.
Another aspect of industry to which I have referred in previous debates is the danger implicit in development areas from proposed industrial take-overs. Whenever the Government receive such a proposal, I hope that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues responsible for development areas will examine closely the probable effect of such take-overs before approving them. As we learned in the 1950s and the early 1960s, the development areas of South Wales are sensitive to such take-overs.
I should have liked to dwell at length on the more political aspect of industrial development and what the alternatives would be under a Tory Government. The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) spoke about the spontaneous development of industry in South Wales and elsewhere. That means no development. The Tories are talking about abolishing the financial inducement to industry to go to development areas. If the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) had his way, there would be no inducement. In view of the effect which the right hon. Gentleman has upon Tory policy, no doubt he will have his way. I treat with derision the alternative of economic partition which is proposed by the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists. That would be a calamity for the Welsh people. I hope that we shall hear no more of it.
My hon. Friends and I have for some months been troubled about certain anomalies which have been revealed by valuations consequent upon leasehold reform. Only today my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. E. Rowlands) called us together to discuss certain problems with a Minister. I am heartened to think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has done more than anybody in the House to bring about leasehold reform, is aware of these problems. I ask him to receive a deputation of my hon. Friends very soon to discuss these problems, because the matter is urgent.
During the past year we have had eight or nine hours in which to discuss Welsh affairs on the Floor of the House. It looks as though during the current year the number of hours allowed for this purpose will be even fewer. It is incredible that our country, which has so many problems to face, should be allowed only one day a year—and that a short day—to discuss its problems in this Chamber.
The hon. Gentleman must realise that many of the major problems of Wales are discussed on the Floor of the House day in and day out and that there is ample opportunity for those who seek to use the opportunities created in this House for the purpose to express in this Chamber the opinions and desires of our people.
Unfortunately, it is not the problems of Wales that are discussed. They are part of bigger problems which are discussed, and to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. We do not get anything like the time allowed to countries comparable in size to Wales to discuss our affairs. And even when we discuss Welsh affairs, as we are doing today, we can arrive at no decision. It is merely a matter of the Government listening to what we say. We can make no decisions, because there is no legislation before us. Before 1945 we did not have even one day on which to discuss Welsh affairs, so the present situation is an improvement on that.
There are so many problems to face and to solve that I can do no more than refer to some of the more urgent ones. Communications have been referred to, and I make no apology for referring to them again, because road, rail, sea, and air communications are the key to industrial and economic development. One of the main reasons why we have not seen in Wales the kind of economic development that we should have liked to see, and one reason why economic development has failed to match the needs and opportunities of our time, is that we in Wales are at a disadvantage compared with neighbouring regions of England when it comes to matters such as roads and railways.
That is one major reason why last year—and this is one of the facts to which the Minister did not refer in his opening speech—we had 45,000 fewer jobs for men in Wales than there were four years previously. That is one reason why unemployment remains chronically high at about the 40,000 mark, despite the heavy emigration. That is one reason why the activity rate in Wales has fallen to 47·4 per cent. compared with 57·4 per cent. in England. A fact which I elicited from a Department is that if we had a rate equal to that in England, which in itself is not very impressive, 200,000 more people would be at work in Wales. It is not merely that the rate has fallen absolutely. In comparison with England the gap is widening. There is a bigger gap each year between the Welsh rate and the English rate. Even in comparison with England the Welsh situation is unsatisfactory, and it is deteriorating. For Ministers to say, as they do time and again, that this is due to the large number of self-employed persons in Wales, and to the number of people employed in agriculture, is puerile.
The showpieces filling the Government's window—and we have heard about these again tonight—are the advance factories. We have heard a lot about millions of square feet of factory space being provided. When I asked a Question about this a few weeks ago I was told that the Board of Trade factories built and tenanted since 1964 employed 600 men and 400 women. At Crynant in the Neath area the Cefncoed colliery, which used to employ 800 men, closed the other day. There is now an advance factory in that area—it was shown on television the other night—which employs only two persons.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that by indulging in that kind of talk he is undermining the efforts of the man who is running this factory? Is he aware that that man is confident that he can succeed with this factory? The kind of talk that we get from the hon. Gentleman shows that he is doing everything possible to undermine the future of the Dulais Valley.
I can understand the hon. Gentleman getting annoyed, because this factory is in his constituency. I am putting this forward as a corrective to the golden glow that we had from the Minister. Listening to the right hon. Gentleman one would have thought that everything in the garden was lovely. I am putting forward facts which help us to see the situation in perspective. One of the main reasons for the situation is the lack of development of communications.
Admittedly, there was a tremendous leeway to be made up in road construction. That is the responsibility not only of the present Government but of the English Government, of whatever colour. That leeway required that we should spend at least twice as much as we are now spending on roads in Wales. If we had a Welsh Government, even on our present income we should be able to do just that and we should, indeed, have been doing it for years. Instead, according to the White Paper, the amount is being reduced.
Not only have we failed to make up the leeway. The priorities for communications are wrong because the Government have no strategy for economic development in Wales. The Westminster Governments have spent more on the Severn Bridge than the total annual expenditure on roads in Wales. Indeed, the total estimated expenditure for next year is still less than the sum that was spent on the Severn Bridge.
We have heard of some of the results of building the Severn Bridge. Industries have been moving from Wales—from Cardiff, in particular—over the bridge to Bristol. The Town Clerk of Cardiff has said that the city is losing not only to Bristol, but mainly to Bristol, industries and commercial headquarters worth £200,000 annually to Cardiff in rates.
Another example is the Cardiff-Merthyr road, which is to be the first section of the Cardiff-Caernarvon road, the north-south road running throughout Wales. I am glad that a start is being made at last but, at the present rate of progress, the highway will not reach Caernarvon until about the year 2,100 A.D. and the Cardiff-Merthyr section will not be finished until about 1995. In the South-West itself, we see the same sorry story of grossly inadequate highways. The congestion on the roads there is the factor which most inhibits development of the area. Hope deferred in the Carmarthen area makes the heart there grow sick.
I turn to the subject of ports on the Severn sea—a better phrase than "Bristol Channel". Bristol's prosperity was based on the slave trade, when ships were small. Now that ships are very much bigger, it hopes to maintain and develop its prosperity by means of the Portbury scheme. It can be said that this scheme is a dead duck, for the simple but sufficient reason that there is not enough water in that part of the Severn sea—the part beyond Cardiff—to carry big ships. It would mean prohibitive costs for dredging in order to take up to Bristol the huge ships now being built.
This is also a factor in Severn-side development. It is ridiculous to think that we can develop a conurbation on a vast scale there, for I do not think that any Government would be foolish enough ever to invest the vast sums of money necessary to make that kind of development possible.
Does the hon. Member fail to understand that Bristol has sufficient capital resources of its own to develop the port in the way it wishes? It is Government decision which is preventing Bristol from using its own capital resources to develop the port, even though the natural resources may not be of the best.
I am afraid that Providence has provided that the facts of nature are all against it. Far more sensible would it be to develop the Swansea Bay area. That area will certainly have a great future when we get Welsh Government. It has all the natural advantages, including the tremendous advantage of depth of water near the coast at Swansea. Up to a few hundred yards of the coast there are 30 fathoms of water. The possibility is there of development of a Europort with an ideal site. Perhaps the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. William Edwards) would like to see such development in Blaenau Ffestiniog, but Swansea has more advantages.
One notes that the temper and antisocial outlook of British Railways in Wales is revealed by the scandalous destruction of valuable station buildings. When private persons deliberately destroy valuable property they get gaoled, but the British Railways Board, which destroys property to the tune of hundreds of thousands of £s, get C.B.E.s and knighthoods. There is a grave danger of the Board destroying one of the most important lines left open in Wales, a line which runs through central Wales.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), when he was Minister for Welsh Affairs, gave great assistance in combating a similar proposal made by the Railways Board to close the line. It is partly due to his assistance that the line was kept open. I hope that the present Secretary of State will give similar assistance now that the line is again threatened. If the Government allowed the Board to do this they would deserve to be cast into outer darkness by the people of the large area which the railway serves.
We need modernisation of railways and electrification of the lines, but that is something which we are not to have. This connects with the intention of the Government completely to reorganise the whole electricity industry. The Government should be warned that if they do not recognise Wales as an entity in this matter and establish a board for the whole of Wales which would be responsible for the generation and distribution of electricity in the whole of Wales, they will face even more serious trouble than they face now.
We also need a water board with adequate powers, not merely a water resources board about which we have heard tonight. We need a board which could develop, control and sell water resources, as is done not only on the Continent of Europe, but in the United States.
I have followed the hon. Member's argument with interest, but I should like to know whether he can give an example of any country which actually sells water as opposed to obtaining capital for development of a dam.
I gave the example of Switzerland where water is sold from one canton to another. This happens also between different States in the United States of America. There is no difficulty about it. Water, being one of our great natural resources, could be developed in this way for the benefit of Wales. Just as we do not get the kind of Council for Wales that Welsh people demand, and do not get an elected council but merely an advisory council, so we do not have a Countryside Commission to look after our National Parks. We do have the separate boards which are not needed by Wales. A so-called Rural Development Board is to be imposed on a part of Wales although no one except Ministry officials wants it. The purpose was bluntly stated by the Ministry spokesman in the recent hearing at Aberystwyth when he said that it is
to accelerate the formation of commercial holdings".
That is a great Socialist objective, but it is not something that the farmers enjoy and approve. It involves getting rid of the small farm, the family farm, by amalgamation. I am delighted that Carmarthenshire is to escape the Board's attentions, even though the Report of the Inquiry at Aberystwyth says that
In its early stages of operation
—note that apparently it is only then that this will happen—
the Board will need to be wise, patient and forebearing in its public relations.
Would the hon. Gentleman explain to me why, when so many bodies wish to have an elected council in Wales, we do not have one? Would he care to say how many bodies wished to have an elected council?
In relation to Wales and Scotland, there is complete collusion between the two sides. Their policies towards Wales are very similar.
I return to the question of the Rural Development Board. One sees that only in its early stages of operation is it required to exercise wisdom, patience and forbearance. Evidently, the need will cease after a few years of operation. That is just what the farmers of the area have feared all along.
We shall have a farcical situation if the Government insist on thrusting this engine of their bad policies on an unwilling people. The Tories have made clear several times that when they come to power in a year or two one of their first actions will be to abolish the Board. In those circumstances, what could be sillier than going ahead with the plan?
The Government's penchant for far bigger units, amalgamation, and centralisation is seen not only in things like farms and hospitals but also in local government reorganisation, where they propose—
The hon. Gentleman is indulging in the grossest exaggeration, but he would be prepared to admit that the existence of the Rural Development Board means that about £500,000 a year will be invested in the area to improve roads and other amenities. Is he against that as well?
I do not think that it means that at all. The figure of £500,000 is mentioned, but there is no guarantee that even a few pounds of it will be used. Most of that money can be obtained in other ways from grants which are already available.
I was about to speak about the knocking together of local authorities. It is the Government's plan, as we know from their White Paper, to knock together the Welsh county councils and to abolish the small urban councils which have done splendid work in Wales. They should drop these reactionary proposals just as they have dropped the Parliament (No. 2) Bill.
Another futile proposal which should have been dropped is the Constitutional Commission. When the Government announced it six months ago, the Press was almost unanimous in saying that it was just a time-wasting gimmick. It has been said that a week is a long time in politics, but six months have passed since the Commission was announced, and it has not yet even met. It is too late to play at politics like this.
I cannot give way. I am already running beyond my time.
It is too late in Wales to play at politics like this. The Welsh people have been infected by freedom beyond hope of recovery. Hundreds of thousands of Welshmen are now hopeless cases dedicated to national freedom. Even long-standing Conservative Unionists of both the Tory and Labour Unionist Parties have lost their immunity from infection. Wales is lost to England, because she is finding herself.
I had already sat down, but I am glad to be able to say, if the hon. Gentleman did not already know it, that the Labour Party is a Unionist party. It does not believe in a separate Government for Wales. What does it believe in, therefore? It believes in political and constitutional unionism between England and Wales, just as the Tory Party has hitherto believed.
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) into the question of rural development boards, but the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) who made her maiden speech this afternoon made a far better analysis of the problems of Northern Ireland, which did not involve questions of national identity but related to the question of social and economic responsibility, to the fundamental problems and wickedness of capitalism expressed through the establishment of the Unionist Party there, which has nothing to do with nationalist issues, as she made clear.
One of the fundamental issues which has been raised tonight is the achievements of the Government, but some of the fundamental problems which are especially to do with South Wales still need to be posed. I blame no one in South Wales for feeling a little confused by the proliferation of plans and proposals over the last 12 months or so. We have, for example, Severnside City ideas, Llantrisant New Town, the maritime industrial development areas policy for the coastal strip of Cardiff and, within that framework, development areas, special development areas, grey areas and non-development areas.
I am not certain that all these plans and proposals for the development of South Wales are necessarily complementary: in some cases they are differing and conflicting. Someone, somewhere and some time soon has to establish an overall plan for the development of South Wales. What is lacking at the moment is any real strategy of development in South Wales which will give a vision or an idea of what South Wales may be like in 1981 or 2001. Will it, for example, be dominated by the great industrial complex sited on the coast between Newport and Cardiff, as imaginatively described by the South Wales Docks Board and supported by the Ministry of Transport studies of maritime industrial development areas, or will it be the Llantrisant New Town, with its growth to 130,000 people, with all the major industrial development which would accrue?
What is, in all this, the future of Cardiff, the capital city? Professor Buchanan has done studies for Cardiff and for Llantrisant and, in his Cardiff study, he explicitly excluded any form of industrial development in the docks and the coastal strip between Newport and Cardiff. If the South Wales Docks Board proposals went forward, as Professor Buchanan confessed at a Press conference when he introduced his plan, it would mean a major re-think of his transportation and planning study of Cardiff. Are we to have such a major re-think? Do we support the maritime industrial development area policy of the Ministry of Transport? Is the Welsh Office supporting such proposals, or does it support the idea of Llantrisant New Town and the restriction of the development of the capital city to essentially a commercial and administrative centre? These are the choices and decisions which no one has yet even begun to discuss or conclude upon.
Something which has been given very little attention tonight, although it is the most significant event in the development of South Wales, is the publication of the Llantrisant New Town Report and Professor Buchanan's views on it. To say the least, Professor Buchanan is enigmatic on these major problems. He took as his brief the terms of reference in "Wales: the Way Ahead". But he discovered, like many others, that "Wales: the Way Ahead" can mean all things to all men and all towns.
He assures us that Llantrisant new town will in no way preclude development further west. Apparently, the Land Commission's proposal for almost doubling Bridgend will have no effect on and will not be affected by the new town. I would doubt that.
Then we look at the relationship between the development of Cardiff and Llantrisant. Cardiff will develop, and there will be a population of 130,000 five or six miles away from the major regional centre of the capital city of Cardiff. At one stage in his report on Llantrisant, Professor Buchanan assures us that the growth of Llantrisant new town nearby should add naturally to the demand for Cardiff's services and to the city's strength as a regional centre. That is in paragraph 360. In paragraph 184 he says that at the moment Cardiff as a regional centre provides the major shopping centre for high order durable goods and that it was expected that Llantrisant would attract a good deal of the expenditure on durable goods from surrounding areas and also that a good deal would be lost to other centres, particularly Cardiff. Where do we stand?
Professor Buchanan has proposed, for the year 2,001, 900,000 sq. ft. as a major shopping centre in Llantrisant. Only a year or so ago he proposed a 3 million sq. ft. shopping centre in Cardiff. Does any one believe that there will be sufficient purchasing power in places within a few miles of each other to justify the development of 3,900,000 sq. ft. of shopping space in two major centres of South Wales?
The recent Glamorgan shopping study suggested that if Llantrisant grows to a population of between 130,000 and 140,000 Cardiff's shopping centre will need to be smaller rather than larger, 1,200,000 sq. ft. instead of 3 million sq. ft. When we consider that almost every other town in South Wales is also planning new and in some cases expanded town centre shopping schemes, we may find South Wales in a situation which could have happened in one of the northern regions. If all the planning proposals for shopping development in the North-West had been implemented, there would have been nothing less than one man, one shop in the region.
I have taken the specific example of shopping centres as an illustration of the need to produce an overall development plan for South Wales. We should not under-estimate town centre development, which absorbs an enormous amount of public and private capital.
Where is the future industrial base of South Wales? Do we want a commuter society on the lines of the South-East, successful and prosperous but destroying many of the social values of the South Wales communities? Again, there is absolute confusion and almost impenetrable difficulty in knowing exactly where we stand on these basic issues.
Again, Professor Buchanan in the Llantrisant study quotes, presumably with acceptance, "Wales: the Way Ahead", which says that Cardiff should assume an increasingly important part in the life of economy; its many advantages for manufacturing industries should be exploited; considerable structural changes can be expected because of the rundown of steel. He then points out the anomalies of the development area policy and the problems which would occur with a new town like Llantrisant. I am not sure whether Professor Buchanan thinks that Cardiff should be within or outside the development areas, and whether Cardiff's industrial needs will be complementary or competing with those of the new town, Llantrisant. What are the advantages of manufacturing industries in Cardiff which could be exploited? If these are not the largest areas of land capable of industrial development adjacent to the docks, what are they? Is the planner to be ignored in his plan for Cardiff that there should be no industrial development along the coastal strip? Should we discount this, as he seems to discount it in his plan for Llantrisant?
Are the Llantrisant new town and the proposals put forward by the South Wales Docks Board only last weekend for a major industrial complex on the coastal strip compatible? Are they complementary or conflicting?
Perhaps I should not be too harsh on Buchanan. His apparent difficulties are inevitable without any clearly defined policy and strategy for South Wales. They expose "Wales: the Way Ahead" for what it it. It is not a strategy or a plan, but a series of round-the-country surveys, expressing and endorsing local plans and aspirations. All of them are commended irrespective of whether they are complementary or conflicting and whether they are all quite different from each other or can all be accommodated in the same overall plan.
My point is not directed at the fact that a marvellous job has not been done. A very difficult job has been done, despite the circumstances. Today we have better housing and a better society in Wales than could possibly have existed if a Tory Government had taken over.
Surely it is time to make a decision. But, without a strategy and without an overall plan for South Wales, how can one judge the competing demands on public investment? In what scheme of things in South Wales can any Secretary of State give approval to a £20 million road scheme in Cardiff which will move commuters a few miles at 30 m.p.h. at peak periods when there are so many large missing links in our present major road network? My right hon. Friend announced today that he had reached one vital decision in respect of communications. The construction of the M4 is to be started by 1971–72. But what effect will it have on other major public investment programmes? Will he now give £20 million for an urban motorway scheme in Cardiff, or will he decide that it does not come sufficiently high in the priorities of the region? These are the sorts of matters which should be debated and discussed before decisions are taken upon them. In what scheme of things should we underwrite an £80 million development in Cardiff and a £380 million development in Llantrisant nearby? Is Cardiff to be an administrative and commercial capital only? What is its industrial future?
At the moment, we have not got a scheme of anything. We have not got a plan for South Wales which will combine the social values of the communities in the valleys and establish the best ways of developing the economy of South Wales. What we desperately need and what the people of Wales hope to have is some real guide-line as to the way ahead in South Wales.
I was interested in what the hon. Gentleman said about the Welsh people in the valleys looking for a way ahead. Would he agree that the chief requirement is for a net increase in the number of jobs, particularly male jobs? Does he foresee a net increase in the number of male jobs, and can he say something about the net increase that there has been?
I would have to speak for another half hour to answer that question. However, I see an increase under a Socialist Government, because they are willing to control the economy of the United Kingdom in the interests of the regions, and this is vital. If we loosen our control on the development of the South-East and other similar congested areas, we have no hope. It is the Government's control of the United Kingdom economy which will produce those jobs, and nothing else.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. E. Rowlands) will understand if I do not follow him, although I agree with his general criticism that the Government have not a picture in mind of the economic basis of the kind of society in Wales that they wish to see in the future.
I am sorry that the Secretary of State is no longer with us. He appeared to be
in a very buoyant mood today. He indulged in a bout of self-congratulation, and his only regret appeared to be that he was not in a position to spend more money in Wales and could spend it only on essentials. I was surprised to hear that, because only today, as the Minister knows, I put down a Question which was not reached, but to which I have had the Reply, about the way in which some money is spent in Wales. It had come to my attention that hospital authorities had been instructed, in a great hurry, to erect flagpoles ready for the visit of the Parliamentary Secretary and other dignitaries to hospitals in Wales and that joiners had to work throughout Saturday and Sunday to erect them. The Answer from the Minister is:
My right hon. Friend asked Hospital Authorities throughout Wales to fly Welsh flags on 1st April, where this could be done without undue expense, to mark the devolution of responsibility for the Hospital Service in Wales to the Secretary of State for Wales on that day. I am told that about £1,240, including payment for some 166 hours over, time, was in fact spent by these authorities.
I will give way in a moment. This is a small sum in itself, but it is annoying to hospital authorities when we are continually told that money cannot be spared to be spent on essential hospital services. It shows a strange sense of priority for a Socialist Government.
The flagpoles were not put up for my visit. I am sure that the House will agree that the occasion of the transfer of executive power for health services to the Secretary of State for Wales deserves significant recognition. The emphasis which was rightly put on it was "without undue expense". Taken over a long period the cost is infinitesimal. The hon. Gentleman, as much as anyone else, has pleaded for greater powers for the Secretary of State. I think that the House will agree that here was an occasion on which we could do something significant to recognise it.
If that is the best way the Government could think of marking the occasion, I pity their sense of priority and purpose.
The Secretary of State for Wales, in a great deal of his speech, dwelt on the economic state of Wales. The right hon. Gentleman did not mention that in 1965, for the first time, the number of jobs available to employees in Wales dropped to below one million, and that it has remained well under that figure since.
Wales is still far too dependent on declining industries, and the Government have not shaped up to the enormity of the task of providing Wales with the right infrastructure for a sound economy in future. Despite the provision of advance factories, there are still fewer jobs in Wales than there were five years ago. No one denies that Wales has been neglected for many years. There is an enormous amount of work to do if we are to provide Wales with a sound economy when the raw materials which existed in the past have disappeared.
It seems to me—and I have said this many times—that the future of Wales will largely depend on the speedy development of a first-class transport system. The Government are spending more money on roads in Wales, but largely on patching up existing roads rather than on providing a new transport structure which Wales so badly needs. We are still denied promotional roads; and there are very few miles of motorway in Wales. As a Liberal, I believe that the greatest economic contribution that any Government could make to Wales at the present time is a first-class transport system.
Farmers have had a difficult year. Few people appreciate how great are the difficulties of small farmers in some of the marginal areas in Wales. One good demonstration farm would be worth more to mid-Wales than any Rural Development Board.
The farmers of Mid-Wales know how to farm and people in Mid-Wales cannot understand why the Government are prepared to spend so much money on the administrative paraphernalia of the Rural Development Board, which is supposed to improve rural services. The Minister of Agriculture intervened and mentioned roads and other services. At the same time the Secretary of State has refused to sanction innumerable sewerage schemes, on the ground that they cannot be afforded. If the one cannot be afforded how is it that the other can be afforded? It is a question I should like dealt with later.
They are spending a considerable amount of money on new towns, and they accepted a criticism of mine about their original plans for overspill from Birmingham, to build for 75,000. They are concentrating now on doubling Newtown as I suggested.
I want to go back to the subject of transport and to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman what he thinks about the expenditure of £246 million in writing off the debt of London Transport. Is he aware of the effect that this money could have had if spread over the whole of the United Kingdom?
I do not want to be drawn into arguments like that. All I can say is that my great difference with the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) on Welsh matters is that I think that there is a great advantage in Wales having a unified economy with the United Kingdom. Much that needs to be done in Wales and Scotland and the regions of England can be done only if we pool our wealth.
I am extremely concerned about the inequality of treatment of rural Wales with regard to television and radio programmes. In my area of Montgomeryshire reception is still atrocious. Many people still see only one television channel, and often the picture comes, as it were, through the mist. People in urban areas such as Cardiff or London would not stand for this service. Why should we in the rural areas have to tolerate it? The people of mid-Wales have a first-class moral case—I am not saying a legal case—for paying only half the television licence fee, because they certainly receive less than half the value that the majority of people receive from their television and radio service.
Another matter which is of general concern is the great growth of what I call "the administrative industry" in Wales when fewer and fewer people are engaged in productive work. The present Government have added enormously to the tendency. For example, the total administrative staff of the Welsh Hospital Board and its committees in 1948 was 880. By the end of 1968 it had gone up to 2,285 people. This is in administration alone. Those people cost £404,000 in 1949 and they are estimated to cost £2,357,000 in 1968–69. This is one example. Another is the Inland Revenue staff in Wales, which totalled 1,874 at the end of 1948 but which had gone up to 4,488 by the end of 1968.
We have vast increases in the staffs of boards, county councils, the Land Commission, and all that on what is an increasingly precarious economic base. Naturally I accept that in any sophisticated economy there is bound to be a growth in administration. But it has got out of proportion in Wales, in that Parkinson's Law has been working overtime. It is right—and the right hon. Gentleman knows this—that for years there has been talk of an amalgamating of units of local government, and there has been a great deal of manoeuvring for jobs to build up status. In so many administrative spheres status depends on the number of men one has under one in one's department. It would be far better for Wales if some of this money were spent on the real needs of the people.
To take as an example the hospital services, for every £1 spent on administration there is £1 less to spend on hospitals and medical services. The matter needs looking into because things are getting out of hand.
I interrupted the hon. Member for Carmarthen to deal with the Welsh Water Board. I wish to make my position clear. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State knows that I am very much in favour of a Welsh Water Resources Board. I do not envisage an economic division between England and Wales. It is essential that the development of Welsh water resources should be partly controlled by the Welsh and that Wales should not just have an advisory committee.
But people are under a great delusion if they think that there is a great deal of money to be made from water. One country can sell to another country water which is piped from a reservoir from the one to the other, but in these days that is an uneconomic process. Water flowing naturally down a river from, say, the Severn, which rises in Montgomeryshire in Wales, down into England, is extracted in England but is controlled by regulating dams in Wales. Anybody who thinks that he can charge for that water, as opposed to extracting a levy from all the water users on the river, wherever they may be situated in Wales or England, is suffering from a delusion. It cannot be so.
I know of no example in international law in which one country charges another country for water which flows naturally down a river from one country into another although there are international treaties under which, for example, the United States provide money for Canada to pay the capital cost of various developments and have made contributions towards hydro-electric schemes and so on. No country, as far as I know, has ever claimed the right to charge another for water which flows naturally from the one country to the other. This is not to say that there is not a first-class case for a Welsh Water Resources Board, But let us have it clear just what we are talking about.
There has been mention of a Commission to be set up on the Constitution. It is a valid criticism of the Government that one expects a Government to lead and to give their views about legislative devolution. I should like to know from the Secretary of State whether the Government are to give evidence to the Royal Commission in favour of a domestic Parliament for Wales. May we be told the Secretary of State's view?
The people of Wales are conscious of their identity as a nation and feel that there are many things which should not be subject to the sort of centralised control which exists at present. I am in favour of people in the regions of England, as well as those in Wales, having a great deal more control over their own affairs. The valid comparison economically is not between England and Wales, but between Wales and some of the economically neglected regions of England. Many of the problems in Wales, in Scotland and in the North-East and South-West England are purely economic and are best solved if we in the United Kingdom all work together.
There is at the same time another sphere which partly embraces economic matters and yet is concerned with the social, cultural and educational life of a region—and particularly of a nation—which needs to have much more control over its own affairs. What is the Government's view on this matter and what evidence would they give to a Royal Commission?
I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who represents a vastly different area of Wales than I do. I trust, therefore, that he will forgive me if I do not pursue the arguments which he adduced.
I wish to deal with certain topics raised in Cmnd. 1930 "Cymru: Wales 1968", on page 126 of which the paragraph headed "The Transport Act, 1968" reports that the Secretary of State for Wales has power
… to designate passenger transport areas covering all or any parts of Wales.
It will be agreed that we need a properly integrated and efficient system of
public transport in Wales. A month ago I tabled a series of Parliamentary Questions to my right hon. Friend on this issue and he indicated in reply that the matter was still under consideration.
The subject should be treated with urgency because the 1968 Act is an enlightened Measure. We admired the efforts of my right hon. Friend who is now the First Secretary when she pioneered the Measure through Parliament. Indeed, some of us would have been happier had she stayed in the high office which she held at that time because we are not finding some of her present proposals so appetising.
We in Wales should make use of the 1968 Act to get rid of small and inefficient units of public transport, some of which exist in South Wales. I therefore urge my right hon. Friend to establish a passenger transport authority for South Wales, an area which is ideally suited for such an arrangement.
On page 135 of Cmnd. 3930 there is an interesting paragraph headed "Iron Ore Terminals". We are pleased that in the autumn of this year a new major iron ore terminal is to be opened at Port Talbot. Next month, in the company of several of my colleagues, I will have the pleasure of visiting this new undertaking, which has been built at a cost to the public of about £17 million. It will take vessels of 100,000 tons and it could cater for vessels of up to 150,000 tons.
I want to know what is to happen to Monmouthshire. In November, 1966, the British Transport Docks Board announced that it was promoting a Bill to seek permission to build a new iron ore terminal at Uskmouth for the reception and discharge of iron ore for the Spencer Works at Llanwern. It was to cost about f14 million. Then came the public ownership of the steel industry. In South Wales the industry was divided between the publicly-owned Richard, Thomas and Baldwin organisation and the Steel Company of Wales, which largely existed in the west of Wales.
Following the public ownership decision, a series of other decisions were taken which were not favourably received in Monmouthshire. For example, we learned that the chairman of the new undertaking had previously been connected with the privately-owned side of the industry in West Wales, that the Board was to be comprised largely of people from the privately-owned steel industry and that the headquarters of the newly-organised steel industry was to be established at Port Talbot. Again, when it came to questions of major investment we found that the principal amounts were to be invested at Port Talbot.
The final point with which I wish to deal is the question of Uskmouth which we soon found was in jeopardy. In November, 1967, as a result of a letter I had written to the Ministry of Transport, I received a reply from the late Mr. Stephen Swingler, then Minister of State at that Ministry. In his letter he pointed out that Parliamentary approval had been obtained for the Uskmouth project but that the managing director of the British Steel Corporation in Wales, Mr. Cartwright, had now set up a committee to examine all aspects of the importation of iron ore into South Wales; and presumably, he said, any decision on the Uskmouth project must await its outcome. We have been waiting ever since. I feel that this is not good for the work-people concerned. Naturally, a great deal of anxiety has been generated in the area. In the last week or two we have had a major strike at the Spencer Steel Works. I am not suggesting that this strike could be directly related to those anxieties, but nevertheless if morale in an establishment is low there is more likelihood of strikes.
To continue the story, this morning I received a further letter from the Minister of Power in which he indicated to me that the British Steel Corporation is still working on a study of ore imports into South Wales, to which I had referred in my letter of 3rd February; but I understand it hopes to be in a position to put forward proposals in the fairly near future. A decision on these matters is very much overdue. The British Transport Docks Board has put forward very realistic proposals for a scheme to modernise the existing iron ore handling facilities at Newport Docks. It is a system whereby the cranes would unload the iron ore from the ships and put it into large size hoppers prior to it being put into trucks for dispatch to the Spencer works.
I understand that this scheme would cost some £900,000 and take something like 12 months to complete. The capital for this investment would be written off over a period of seven years. During this period further consideration could be given to major investment policies in regard to the Uskmouth iron ore terminal.
The alternative to this interim modernisation scheme is for millions of tons of iron ore to have to be conveyed over land to the Spencer works. That will mean, in turn, a double handling of the iron ore, which means inefficiency. It will mean that the steel industry will be entirely reliant on rail; and, thirdly, bridges would have to be strengthened which, again, would involve major capital investment. But the seven-year interim scheme which the Docks Board has put forward would give the necessary opportunity for thought on any possible idea of the Uskmouth scheme still going forward. It must be borne in mind that in this field new concepts are coming into being, almost literally, every day. There is a system using what are known as mother ships which can carry in the region of 60 or 70 barges which can be dropped off at any particular port, as required. Secondly, there is the new concept known as floating docks which can be split up and dispatched to places where they are required.
Newport docks are essentially buoyant. In 1968, three-quarters of the imports into those docks consisted of iron ore. Six out of seven tons of the exports leaving them comprised iron and steel and tinplate goods. This is a classic case of putting all the eggs in one basket. Admittedly, 18 months ago, we had a new timber terminal at Newport. We were pleased to welcome the Prime Minister on that occasion because he opened it. But, alongside this terminal, we need a dock access road to connect it with the main motorway. This could be built at the small cost of £500,000. There has been a lot of discussion about this project. It appears that the local authority, the Ministry and the Docks Board are at loggerheads about how the finance for it should be found.
The docks at Newport can be viable only if the steel industry is healthy. Without efficient ore handling in Monmouthshire, the steel industry will be run down. The efficiency of the industry in Monmouthshire will deteriorate and the number of people employed in it will decrease. No stone should be left unturned to put matters right, for a large and efficient steel industry is vital to the future prosperity of the people of South Wales.
The hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes) made some very interesting suggestions about the steel industry. What he said goes far wider than mere constituency matters because the efficiency of the steel industry is vital to the engineering industry upon which so many constituencies in South Wales depend. The handling of iron ore is an integral part of ensuring that efficiency.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not mind if I turn from his remarks, although I should like to return to them later, to the speech of the Secretary of State. I was fascinated by the right hon. Gentleman. At first I wondered whether he was talking about the same country as that in which we live. Then I had some doubts whether it was the same planet. I ended with some thoughts about the galaxy. It was a wonderful speech. Some of his remarks about Government expenditure made one's hair curl. Despite the addiction of the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) to things Swiss, I hope that, in view of today's sobering news from the foreign exchanges of Europe, the gnomes of Switzerland cannot read Welsh debates. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman deserved his cheer. I have never heard in many months such an entertaining, ebullient and amusing form of soap opera.
I should like to ask the House to consider some more realistic concepts and to say a few words, first, about some of the problems which confront us in Wales, secondly, about some of the things which I venture to believe we are doing wrong and, then, about some thoughts on what we might do right. I deal first with the problems. If I illustrate any of them with examples from either my constituency or West Wales, it is simply because I know the situation there better. However, hon. Members on both sides will be able to draw analogies from their own constituencies.
First, there is the whole question of what work people in Wales will do. The unemployment figures for my constituency are very sombre indeed. I will give the figures for the various labour exchanges in the last year. In Haverford-west the figure has risen from 2·9 per cent. to 4·2 per cent., in Tenby from 4·6 per cent. to 5·4 per cent., in Pembroke Dock from 4·4 per cent. to 5·2 per cent., in Fishguard from 4 per cent. to 7 per cent., and in Milford Haven from 7 per cent. to 10 per cent.
This is while we still have a great deal of temporary construction work on hand on the oil-fired power station and before the rundown in the service establishments comes. These figures, which are twice the average in Wales and considerably more than twice the average of the United Kingdom as a whole, could well be doubled unless action is taken. It is a serious problem. I appreciate that Pembrokeshire may be one of the blackest and most intractable spots, largely as a result of Government action in the closure of service establishments. However, it is not my point to argue the pros and cons of their closure today. That is outside the scope of this debate.
It goes much wider than that throughout Wales. Let us take the basic industries which have been referred to today. Many hundreds of farms will be amalgamated in the next few years. This is inevitable. Many thousands of people will leave the land in Wales in the next few years. The steel industry, to which the hon. Member for Newport referred, is going through major changes. The result will be that many thousands fewer people will be needed in the steelworks.
The biggest problem of all is the coal industry. It is questionable whether in 20 years' time in Wales there will be any coal industry as we know it today. The only coal miners there will be people wearing white collars and pressing buttons. That will be a good thing. The problem remains of what we shall do with the miners or the sons of the miners who will not be employed in this fashion.
At the moment there are 50,000 people employed in Welsh coalmines. Alternative employment will be needed for many of them. There will be 20,000 or 30,000 fewer in the steel industry. Much of that reduction will occur in Wales. There will be several thousand fewer in agriculture. It is a reasonable estimate that over the next 20 years we shall probably need at least 100,000 new jobs in Wales. That is putting it conservatively.
There was the famous controversy about Professor Edward Nevin's job gap—43,000, I think he said it was, on the basis of the Brown National Plan, the great pyramid of rubbish; 59,000, I think he said it was, on the basis of the sort of progress that the right hon. Gentleman with the spy-glass was making while his Government were in office. The problem is that there is a very large job gap.
What are we to do about it? To employ people, capital is required. The average amount of capital required in the less sophisticated manufacturing industries is about £2,000 per man from employers. Including Government infrastructure—roads, services, and so on—it is considerably more than that. In the more sophisticated industries it runs out at more like £20,000 per job from the employers, and the services are required, too. A fair estimate might well be that it would cost about £10,000 per head to provide these jobs, part from the private sector and part from the public sector. A sum of £10,000 per head for 100,000 jobs means that £1,000 million of investment will be required in Wales in the next 10 or 15 years. That is a great deal of money, and it is enough to concern anybody involved in the management of Wales at the moment, because the question is—from where shall we get it? That is the problem that I pose to the House. It is the central problem, but there are peripheral problems, too.
What are we doing wrong which is preventing the attraction of this form of capital? The first thing that we are doing wrong is creating unnecessary uncertainty. This shaking of confidence is something of which very few Governments appreciate the consequence.