Regional Aid

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st October 1983.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East 12:00 am, 31st October 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if any changes are proposed in regional aid for Wales; and if so, what will be the likely effect of such changes.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

The Government are currently reviewing the way in which regional policy has operated throughout the country in recent years. The review is not yet complete.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East

Can the Secretary of State say at this stage that there will be no diminution in the development area status of Newport? Such diminution would he highly disadvantageous for the rest of the county. Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that while there is 18 per cent. unemployment in the area, it is to Newport that people from the surrounding districts and valleys come to find employment?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I recognise the importance of the economic contribution that Newport makes. Indeed, in the last week I have met the chairmen of two major employers in Newport—one one only this morning, the chairman of Monsanto—about their companies and projects. The Government are consulting about the change in regional policy. There is to be a meeting of the NEDC this week, and there will be a White Paper, the proposals of which will be open to consultation. No decisions or proposals have yet been made about individual travel-to-work areas.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Vale of Glamorgan

Whatever changes may take place in regional aid, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, and assert in the Cabinet, that in the last 20 years or so Wales has suffered disproportionately from coal mine and steel closures and the loss of its older industries? Will he bear that very much in mind, whatever new system is framed?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I do not see how anyone could doubt the facts stated by my hon. Friend. Clearly, they are factors which will be taken into account in any review of regional policy.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas , Meirionnydd Nant Conwy

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the contents of a paper which is to be submitted to the NEDC on Wednesday by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry that regions should accept wage cuts as part of regional policy?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

Before the hon. Gentleman asks questions about a paper which is being presented by the Government, he should see the totality of the paper and what is said in it. That paper is being submitted as a basis for discussion in the NEDC. I suggest that it would be proper to hear the NEDC discussion before commenting on it.

Photo of Mr Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones Shadow Secretary of State

With 170,000 Welsh people out of work, will the right hon. Gentleman pledge today that he will fight against any lessening of regional aid to Wales?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

We should make sure that regional policy is effective—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—in helping the areas that need it most and in stimulating the development of new productive industry. I assure the House that I will press the case for continuing and effective regional policy in Wales.