Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27 April 1987.

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Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Shadow Minister (Education) 12:00, 27 April 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the impact of Her Majesty's Government's privatisation policy on the economy of Wales.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

Privatisation, which is an essential part of the Government's policy of stimulating enterprise, has already proved of considerable benefit to the people of Wales.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Shadow Minister (Education)

Does the Secretary of State think it ethical or desirable that Cabinet Ministers who make important decisions on privatisation should be allowed to buy shares in privatisation issues, as he did in British Telecom? What is his view of those of his colleagues who made multiple share applications?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

My hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Best) has sadly wrecked his career by his action, but he should be remembered as well for his outstanding contribution to Ynys Môn as a constituency Member of Parliament. Like all Cabinet Ministers, all my investments are made without reference to me and at the complete discretion of my investment advisers.

Photo of Mr Ian Grist Mr Ian Grist , Cardiff Central

If I may use a slightly different meaning of the word "privatisation", does my right hon. Friend appreciate that some Conservative Ministers are most disappointed that this has not gone further in Wales, in particular in freeing workers in local authorities and the National Health Service? Can we look for further action on this in the next Conservative Government?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

The answer to the final part of my hon. Friend's question is that he can look to further action. Indeed, we are already taking vigorous action in the Health Service. I have had recent discussions with the chairmen of a number of health authorities in Wales about carrying this action forward. I am glad to say that the health authority covering my hon. Friend's constituency is taking real and positive steps.

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

If privatisation of the public services in Wales were ever to take place it would lead to the loss of at least 3,000 jobs in the very early years in which it was implemented. Is not the right hon. Gentleman's record since 1979 in Wales a ghastly one? Manufacturing investment is down, regional grants are down, transport jobs are down, mining jobs are down by 23,000 and metals and chemicals are down by 45 per cent. Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that his complacent policies have lost us 36 per cent. of our manufacturing jobs? To lose further jobs through privatisation would make the problems far worse. For these betrayals, the right hon. Gentleman should not be given a peerage to go back to the City, he should be sacked.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I have seldom heard such nonsense. The truth of the matter is that every privatisation has greatly improved the efficiency of the organisation. In Wales, for example, we have benefited from Amersham International, Associated British Ports and Allied Wire and Steel. I hope that in due course, the steel industry will return to the freedom of the private sector. The hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that he would like to see the steel industry return to the over-manned, uncompetitive condition in which we inherited it from the Labour party. I am glad to say that today it is among the most competitive steel industries in Europe and that its future is assured by that fact.

Photo of Mr Keith Raffan Mr Keith Raffan , Delyn

Does my right hon. Friend agree that privatisation by local authorities and health authorities has led not only to lower rates, which must be good for business and for jobs, but to better services, because money saved can be reallocated to areas of greatest need?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

That is true. If we get improved efficiency, we are able to provide better services for the same outlay. It seems quite incredible that spokesmen from the Labour party should argue against efficiency in the public services, yet that seems to be the case that they are to present to the people of Britain and of Wales.