On 14 April 1988 the numbers of unemployed claimants in Newport district, Gwent and Wales were 7,774, 22,728 and 140,073 respectively. Unadjusted figures for 1979 are not available on a basis that enables a valid comparision to be made.
Is the Secretary of State aware that the number of people in employment in East Anglia increased by 18·2 per cent. between 1979 and 1987, whereas in Wales the number fell by 14·9 per cent.? Will he confirm that, despite umpteen changes in compiling the statistics, unemployment in Newport, Gwent and Wales is still significantly above the 1979 figure?
I am very well aware that East Anglia had no coal or steel closures during that period, and that made a considerable difference to the figures. I am glad to say that many more jobs are being created in a diversity of employments and, with our current positive regional policy, that trend is continuing.
Is it not a fact that in East Anglia there has also been a recent improvement in communications, which has resulted in a great improvement in the industrial standing of the region? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there has been an extremely promising decrease in the number of unemployed in Newport, Gwent and in Wales and a vast increase in the number of notified vacancies?
The best indicators of that increase are the local newspapers throughout Wales, which show a large increase in the number of advertisements of vacancies. There is no doubt that in many parts of Wales that trend is continuing, but there is still a long way to go.
Will the Secretary of State explain why unemployment in Mid Glamorgan has doubled since 1979, and why, according to the latest figures, there has been a substantial increase in unemployment in that region? In my constituency of Cynon Valley male unemployment is now 28 per cent.—the highest level in Wales. Will he tell his Department that we are sick of glossy brochures such as the one I have here from British Coal Enterprise Ltd., which, despite all the hype, has created only 44 jobs in the Cynon Valley, despite the fact that 2,300 men have lost their jobs in the mining industry?
I recognise the problems in the hon. Lady's constituency, but I am sorry if she is suggesting that British Coal Enterprise has not done a good job. Many hon. Members throughout the Principality have expressed their anxiety about what would happen if the activities of that enterprise agency declined. It has helped a lot of new businesses and firms and it has given a lot of advice and money. I hope that that help will continue, and I naturally hope that its activities will continue in the hon. Lady's constituency, and with results.
The fall in unemployment throughout Wales is most welcome, but will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the problems that are faced by areas such as mine and other more remote rural areas when seeking to attract inward investment? Will he impress upon the Welsh Development Agency the importance of stressing the advantages that exist in rural Wales as well as industrial Wales?
Yes. I believe that the Welsh Development Agency has been active throughout the Principality. My hon. Friend will be aware that considerable developments are currently taking place within his constituency as a result of various aid and regional assistance. Perhaps one of the most exciting developments is that in the port area, which could open up important markets in Portugal and Spain. A great deal of help has been given by the Government in such areas.