Unemployment

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd March 1975.

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Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conway 12:00 am, 3rd March 1975

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to reduce unemployment in Wales.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Secretary of State for Wales

The Government's policies are designed to protect and create jobs in Wales.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conway

With unemployment in Wales currently at 4·2 per cent.—higher than at any time last year or the year before—the Secretary of State will, I am sure, appreciate our concern, but is he aware that the biggest discouragement to employment in Wales are the provisions of the Industry Bill, the capital transfer tax and the so-called Employment Protection Bill?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Secretary of State for Wales

I suspect that the hon. Member is living in an entirely different world. What is wanted in Wales—and what has been lacking, year after year—is new investment. I believe that by our proposals under the Industry Bill and for the National Enterprise Board and the Welsh Development Agency, we shall be able to provide the jobs that are so badly needed in Wales.

Photo of Mr Caerwyn Roderick Mr Caerwyn Roderick , Brecon and Radnor

Does my right hon. and learned Friend foresee the agency having a significant effect on unemployment in Wales? If so, what advice will he give Opposition Members when that legislation comes before the House?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Secretary of State for Wales

I shall be extremely surprised if Members of the Conservative Party go into the Lobby against the Welsh Development Agency. Whatever they may think about particular components of the Bill, because of their own dogmatic approach, they will know in their hearts that this is the only way of solving comprehensively the problems of Wales, and that the great problem today is the unemployment situation that we have inherited—high double figures over a number of years and so little done by the Conservative Party. An illustration is the programme of advance factories that we have brought into Wales, when there were so few in the time of the Conservative Party.

Photo of Mr Geraint Howells Mr Geraint Howells , Cardigan

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there are vacant nursery factories in Cardinganshire and that it is very difficult to entice industrialists to Ceredigion? We have no railways links with England, and our road communications are bad. Will he assure us that he will spend more in the next five years on road communications into Mid-Wales?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Secretary of State for Wales

Road communications are important, and I have a personal interest so far as Mid-Wales goes, since I live there. However, although some advance and nursery factories will not be occupied from time to time, it is the whole object of the exercise to ensure that factories are constructed to meet the needs of industrialists, so that we can instantly provide opportunities for industry to expand. The hon. Gentleman will know that our programme of 330,000 square feet of advance factory space last year, compared with a total of 400,000 in three and a half years of the previous Government, is a proud record, and I will continue in that vein.