Labour Statistics

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 Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones Shadow Secretary of State 12:00 am, 31st October 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Wales by how much unemployment in Clwyd, the Deeside travel-to-work area and Wales has increased since May 1979.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

Between May 1979 and September 1983 the number of unemployed claimants in Wales is estimated to have increased by 96,654. Claimant-based unemployment figures at county and travel-to-work area level are available only from October 1982. Between May 1979 and October 1982 the number of registered unemployed in Clwyd increased by 13,779 and in the Shotton travel-to-work area by 5,837; but between October 1982 and September 1983 the number of unemployed claimants decreased by 21 and 229, respectively.

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

That is an appalling answer. The unemployment which has hit Wales since 1979 has been tragic, and those figures should make the right hon. Gentleman feel ashamed. Is he, with his Department, fighting to ensure that British Aerospace obtains launch aid of about £500 million for the Airbus A320 project? Will he pledge that before British Aerospace meets the Prime Minister in November he will indicate to the right hon. Lady that the employment prospects, if launch aid is not given in north-east Wales, where 4,000 plane makers earn their living making the Airbus, will be horrific?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman at least welcomes the fact that between October 1982 and September 1983 unemployment in Clwyd stopped increasing, and indeed achieved a small fall. No decisions have been taken on the A320 Airbus. That project is under consideration by the Government and I have nothing to add to the detailed reply given to the hon. Gentleman by the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Clwyd North West

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the terrifying loss of jobs in north-east Wales under Governments of both major parties has been due largely to an over-reliance in the area on out-of-date and obsolescent industries? Will he continue with his policy of giving massive support to the industries of the future, of which British Aerospace is undoubtedly one? Does he accept that the A320 Airbus is a key element?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I recognise the importance of the company and the project. The Department of Trade and Industry has already given a detailed answer about the factors to be taken into account in making the decision. I am sure my hon. Friend will be pleased to know that during my recent trip to the United States I visited two or three companies which were considering entering into high technology projects in this part of Wales.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Shadow Attorney General

Did the right hon. Gentleman, in his second or third supplementary answer, say that the number of unemployed had fallen? Was he not correct in an earlier answer when he said that the number of claimants had fallen? Has that happened because the books have been cooked by a change of rules?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I gave the House the figures for October 1982 to September 1983. In that part of Clwyd the number of unemployed claimants has fallen.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

That is the most accurate way of assessing unemployment.

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

Has the right hon. Gentleman cooked the books?

Photo of Mr Raymond Powell Mr Raymond Powell , Ogmore

Answer the question.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Shadow Attorney General

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman used the word "claimants" in his first supplementary answer, but he did not do so in his second. I am most anxious to ensure that the record is seen to be straight at the end of the day.