Trades Union Congress (Advisory Council)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st March 1971.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent) 12:00 am, 1st March 1971

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has had any recent discussions with the Welsh Advisory Council of the Trades Union Congress on matters for which he is responsible.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of 1st February to the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas). I shall be meeting representatives of the North Wales Advisory Committee of the Trades Union Congress again on 5th March.—[Vol. 810, c. 237.]

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that the relations between the trade union movement and the Government have gone completely sour? Will he impress upon his Cabinet colleagues that there is a need to change their policies, because the Government's existing policies are leading to much industrial bitterness, heavy unemployment and mass redundancies, particularly in Wales?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I shall be very pleased to meet the representatives of the T.U.C. on 5th March; and I shall hear what they have to say. I agree that unemployment is a matter of grave concern. Representations have been made to me frequently about the high rate of unemployment which has prevailed in Wales for many years.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flintshire West

Would not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that there is some duty on the Opposition to make it perfectly plain to the industrial wing of the Labour Party that they have a responsibility for ensuring that although measures can be opposed by constitutional means, the use of a political strike does no good for that party or for the country?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that when industrial action is taken which shuts down factories, not in pursuance of a trade dispute but in pursuance of a political motive, the effect on unemployment in the country can be very serious, and these are matters which have to be taken into account by those who support such action.

Photo of Alan Williams Alan Williams , Swansea West

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, since the Chancellor announced his new regional policy last October, Wales, like the rest of the country, has faced record bankruptcies, soaring unemployment and redundancies, and plummeting investment, and since the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry have twice within the last fortnight had to introduce emergency measures to try to help the development areas, will he now admit, before he goes skulking back to his London constituency, that Government policy for Wales is an absolute shambles and that the Government are in a state of near panic about the employment situation in Wales and other development areas?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

No. I will certainly not admit or accept the words of the hon. Member's contrived question. The position in Wales is that a sharp deterioration in the unemployment situation can be traced back to July, 1966; that since then Wales has not survived a winter without unemployment topping the 40,000 mark; and that unemployment this winter has been at about the same level as it was in the previous four winters. There is a difference, however, between Wales and Great Britain as a whole; the difference has, in fact, narrowed. All I can say to the hon. Gentleman is this: when I was in the Government, in the five years up to 1964 the employment of males in Wales rose by 10,000 and from then, up to 1969, it was reduced by 55,000. Those are the figures, and that was our inheritance.