Welsh Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:32 pm on 4th February 1980.

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Photo of Mr Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda 4:32 pm, 4th February 1980

From what the Secretary of State has said in this House and from his speeches outside it, it seems that he is in favour of higher unemployment—the basic subject of today's debate.

In the debate in the Welsh Grand Committee on 21 November, the Secretary of State said: The pessimists who point only to closures and to ever-rising unemployment seem blind to the very encouraging industrial progress we are making".—[Official Report, Welsh Grand Committee, 21 November 1979; c.15.] If there is a question of blindness I do not believe that the miners, the steel workers and those threatened by redundancies as a result of the present Government's policies are the ones who are blind. They see quite clearly what is happening That is why, if one wanted to describe the prevailing mood in South Wales, it would be one of disillusion, dissatisfaction and discontent. It is not only the question of the number of unemployed being created by this Government; it is the effect on communities, and that affects the very social cohesion on which our society in Wales depends.

There is one ray of hope in today's speech by the Secretary of State. At least on one subject he has changed his mind. I still do not agree with him, but at least it has shown that he is willing to bend to pressures exerted on him by someone else. Therefore, I hope that there will be further changes of mind and that he will reverse his direction and revise his policies, or the time will soon come when he must face rejection at the hands of the people of Wales.