Manufacturing Industry (Employment)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th December 1972.

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Photo of Alan Williams Alan Williams , Swansea West 12:00 am, 18th December 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many manufacturing jobs are in prospect in Wales; and how this compares with those available at 30th June, 1970.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

There were 30,900 in July, 1970. A comparable current figure cannot be given because of changes in industrial development certificate procedures. The figure for August, 1972 was 16,300 and there are indications of a significant revival in industrial interest in recent months.

Photo of Alan Williams Alan Williams , Swansea West

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, unacceptably high as the present level of unemployment in Wales is, the Government have succeeded in keeping the figure at these levels only by eating up the 30,000 to 40,000 jobs that were in the pipeline, without doing anything to replace them? Can he tell us what study is being undertaken within his Department of the effect of the abandonment of the regional employment premium, which is soon to come about, upon labour-intensive industries in Wales?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

The number of jobs in the pipeline is measured by the number of industrial development certificates. For instance, one of the jobs in the pipeline in 1969 was the Alcoa proposals for the rolling mill, which was abandoned. That has now been revived because of Britain's entry into the European Commuinty and an upsurge in demand. It is not proposed that regional employment premium should stop immediately but that it should be phased out from 1974 onwards. It has yet to be decided what will take its place.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Is the Secretary of State aware that it was the Government's policy which delayed the Alcoa project by two years and that it is only now, when investment grants have been restored, that this proposal has gone ahead. Is he further aware that his failure to tell us how many jobs are in the pipeline is bound to cause further anxiety in Wales? The Government must have the statistics. Will the Secretary of State give the House the figure which the Welsh Office has in mind?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has raised this matter because the 1969 Alcoa development was postponed indefinitely, as I understand it, due to the general economic climate here and abroad. Its reinstatement shows industry's confidence in the way the Government are putting the British economy right. I hope the right hon. Gentleman has noted that one of the principal reasons given by the firm is our forthcoming accession to the EEC.