asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many jobs were lost in Wales by redundancy or closure in each of the last four years.
The information is not available in the form requested. Redundancies involving 10 employees or more were reported as due to occur as follows: during 1979, 11,663; during 1980, 45,215; during 1981, 36,432; and during 1982 provisionally 23,577.
Do not those figures show how much deindustrialisation there has been in Wales? Is the Secretary of State not aware that all the reputable economic forecasters agree that if present Government policies continue there is bound to be a substantial increase in unemployment? What will he do about that? Does he accept that if there is, as there will be, an increase in unemployment, the effect on Wales will be greater than that on any other region because of our dependence on steel?
The hon. Gentleman will realise that those figures do not show how much deindustrialisation there has been, because one has to strike a balance between jobs lost and jobs created. A large number of jobs have been created. The figures do not include jobs among the self-employed, for example. The hon. Gentleman suggested that Wales would be worse off than any other region. That is not true. During the present recession, despite the steel losses, unemployment has risen less severely in Wales than in the United Kingdom as a whole. The improved infrastructure and the greater diversification of our industrial base mean that in the future, we will do better than we have done relatively in the past.
I am sure that they would not. One of the weaknesses of many of the policies advocated by the Opposition and others is that they involve not only inflation but some control over prices and incomes, without a guarantee or expectation that the desired effect can be delivered.
In his quieter moments, does the Secretary of State recall the way in which he used to attack the Labour Government when unemployment was a fraction of what it is now—and abused me personally, although I did not mind that? Is he proud of his stewardship of Wales during the past few years, or has he given up the ghost and has no idea of when unemployment will come down?
No Secretary of State who has been in office when unemployment has risen massively, as it did under my predecessor and in my period of office, can be proud of that fact. However, I can be proud of the fact that, despite the severity of the recession and the economic difficulties that we face, we have probably carried out a greater improvement in the industrial infrastructure and attracted more new jobs than in any previous period in modern Welsh history.
There seems to be a difference between my right hon. and learned Friend and the Secretary of State. Does the Secretary of State not agree that the net job losses under the Government have been the worst in Wales since the war? Will he confirm that, in 1979, when the Labour Government were in office, 1,022,000 people were in employment in Wales—an all-time record high—while in June 1982, under the Conservative Administration, the total had fallen to 877,000, an all-time record low? How many of those job losses does he accept as being at least partly his responsibility?
We all know that the numbers of unemployed have increased and that there are fewer people in work than there were when the Labour Government left office, just as employment deteriorated during the period of office of the Labour Government. Unemployment more than doubled under our predecessors. However, all of us can take comfort from the knowledge that, despite those facts, during the past two years we have allocated an all-time record amount of new factory space—nearly 1·6 million sq ft in 1981, and nearly 2 million sq ft in 1982. It is remarkable that, despite the recession, we are being so successful in attracting new jobs and the new industries that will provide the jobs of the future to which we all look.