In January 1979, 18 of the 40 travel-to-work areas in Wales had an unemployment rate above the Welsh average. With permission, I will publish details in the Official Report.
What prospects of future employment does the Secretary of State hold out for those areas? Will he be the main provider of employment, or will it be provided by the Assembly? Is he aware that there is much confusion in the Welsh mind as to who will be the provider of jobs—the Assembly, as propounded by the "Yes" campaigners, or the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as he puts forward in his own claim?
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman, who I understood had been following the debates on the Wales Bill, has suddenly become so confused. I regret that. However, one day I shall take him aside and explain to him what has been explained time after time in debate, that matters for the economy remain at Westminster. If he does not know that now, he will never know it.
Does the Secretary of State agree that the pattern of unemployment tends to show some differences from the past, in that the success of the Development Board for Rural Wales indicates that there is a tendenecy for more and more employers to want to go to rural areas? There is, therefore, a change in the pattern. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman intend to provide more funds for the Board?
The Board has had an increased amount of funds. It has been exceedingly successful. The fear put into the officials and the board of the DBRW by the Opposition has been a matter of great regret. They have recanted. But it is a deathbed repentence on their part. These important weapons—the WDA and the DBRW—are performing a real and important role in developing the economy of Wales. I give them every support.
Whilst totally accepting the view of my right hon. and learned Friend that improvements in the social and transport environment and the infrastructure of Wales will have an impact on the economic prospects of our country, will he say from where, under an Assembly, additional resources could be gained, without loss to those who are still desperately in need, to promote such improvements to a greater extent than he and local authorities try to do now?
I am sure that my hon. Friend followed the discussions in detail. He should know by now that the block grant will be negotiated on, I hope, a basis that will recommend itself to him, namely, the basis of need—need in the past and need in the future. That is the basis of the negotiation. I find it odd that my hon. Friend should be going around Wales saying that there will be a dimininution of £1,000 million in the moneys for Wales.
That is my understanding. If my hon. Friend did not say it, all the better.
No one should be under any misapprehension. The basis of negotiation will be the same—the needs of Wales—but the mechanism will be different. I do not suggest that there will be any extra money. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I wish that my hon. Friends who say "Hear, hear" had heard the debates, when we made it abundantly clear, time after time, that negotiations would be on the basis of need. No Socialist in the House would demur from the basis of need as the method of apportionment.
Following is the information:
|Travel-to-Work||Total Unemployment Rate|
|(Welsh Average at January 1979=8·6 per cent.)|