Detailed figures are not available, but of about 2,200 currently employed in the stone and slate quarrying and mining industries I estimate that employment concerned with slate quarrying accounts for something under 20 per cent.
I am surprised that such figures are not specifically available. Will the right hon. Gentleman take an interest in the present position of the Welsh slate industry, which is severely threatened by the import of Spanish slates, which are selling in Wales at half the cost of those produced in Wales?
One of the difficulties facing the industry has been an upturn in demand for slate as a. result of the improvement grant scheme. The problem has not been price but the inability of local producers to gear up their production, which is based on specialised skills, quickly enough to meet demand. My officials have been in touch with the industry and we are continuing to take a close interest in the matter.