Is my hon. Friend able to say how this assistance has been spread across Wales? Has a certain proportion of this assistance gone to those areas in Wales that most need help of this kind?
The assistance and the grants have been spread fairly evenly throughout Wales. As one would expect, special attention has been paid to the highly industrialised areas. However, there has been a fairly even spread, not only across Wales, but as between overseas companies and British or Welsh-based companies.
The hon. Gentleman knows the answer to that question. More people were in employment in Wales in 1979, but I am also right in saying that at that time there was considerable hidden unemployment. The trend was downwards, and the people of Wales knew it. That is why we were elected. As for the investment to which I have just referred, that involves £104 million in grant, with a total investment of £767 million. Nearly 24,000 new jobs are forecast, and over 2,000 jobs have been safeguarded. That is very different from the position in 1979.
Will the Minister confirm that as unemployment in Wales has risen the Government have reduced the amount of money that is available for regional assistance and the number of areas that qualify for it? Will he also confirm that fewer jobs are available today in Wales than in 1979 and that the increase in employment is explained by the number of people leaving Wales to look for jobs rather than by a real increase in the number of jobs in Wales?
The hon. Gentleman's last point is absolutely wrong. The fact is that unemployment in Wales has been going down for the past 17 months. Wales has had a faster decline in unemployment than almost any other region of the United Kingdom. There is no getting away from those facts.
With regard to regional assistance, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his Autumn Statement, regional assistance is due to be increased. I know that the hon. Member for Caernarf (Mr. Wigley) is arguing with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor about the figures, but I will leave that argument to them.