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?
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.
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?
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.
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.