Labour Statistics

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st October 1991.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East 12:00 am, 21st October 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the most recent unemployment figure for Wales.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

On 12 September, the latest seasonally adjusted figure for unemployment was 120,200.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that it will cost £21 billion to keep 2·5 million people on the dole this year, 120,000 of whom are in Wales? In the Newport travel-to-work area, the unemployment rate is now 11·7 per cent., with 27 people competing for each vacancy. Is not that a disgraceful record for the Government after 12 years and is not it time for the people of the country to be allowed to give their verdict on that record?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that five years ago the figure was 180,000. One area where there has been a substantial reduction has been in the long-term unemployed. I am sad that the hon. Gentleman did not take the opportunity to highlight the successes that have taken place in and around his constituency through new investment and the marvellous news about Imperial park. Imperial college has decided to set up a science park in the area around the hon. Gentleman's constituency. That is marvellous news for the future of Wales.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

If the Secretary of State is so proud of his record, will he explain why, under three successive Secretaries of State, unemployment in the Cynon Valley has been the highest in Wales? If he and the Coal Board have nothing to hid on privatisation, why was I denied access to the only remaining pit in the Cynon Valley, Tower colliery, the week before last? Will he give the men at Tower colliery, which is now making a profit, a categorical assurance that, despite two or three previous redundancies in the coal industry, they now have a secure future in the Tower colliery in Cynon Valley?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

Whether or not the hon. Lady can gain access to the colliery is a matter for British Coal, not me. I regret that she failed to repeat the words of the chief executive of Cynon Valley council who said that Cynon Valley was rapidly becoming the land of high-tech investments. It is exciting that we are now seeing a number of new investments—

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The hon. Lady should not downgrade the achievements of her council, which is doing extremely well in attracting new investment. I am delighted about the investment—the joint venture of the Gooding Sanken group—which is to take place next year.

Photo of Mr Geraint Howells Mr Geraint Howells , Ceredigion and Pembroke North

My colleagues and I would like to be associated with the sentiments expressed earlier this afternoon.

I am sure that the Secretary of State is aware that the people of Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire are disappointed that, after 12 years of Tory rule, Fishguard is at the top of the unemployment league with a rate of 18 per cent. and Cardigan has 17 per cent. That is not a very good Government record and my constituents are disturbed.

How long will they have to wait before unemployment levels move down the league and the average rate is closer to that of other constituencies—6 per cent?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I much appreciate the hon. Gentleman's first remarks.

As for Fishguard and Holyhead, I greatly regret that there are some traditional pockets of high unemployment in Wales and we must use every way possible to feed new opportunities through to those districts. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will pay tribute to the substantial investment being made in north Wales, through the A55 corridor of opportunity. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will be present at the opening of the Conwy tunnel. I am also delighted at the M4 development in the south, towards west Wales, which will open up many opportunities in south and west Wales.

Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Shadow Spokesperson (Wales)

Bearing in mind all the talk that we have heard this afternoon about the appalling level of unemployment in the Principality, is not it exactly the wrong time for the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to be asking for major cuts in the training budget? Now that the Secretary of State has responsibility for training in Wales, will he confirm that, in Wales, career development loans and business enterprise training will continue? Most importantly, precisely what proportion of the £100 million cuts in youth training and the £100 million cuts in employment training will be borne by the people of Wales?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised the subject of training. As he will know, resources are a matter for discussion within government and the House will be informed about that subject in the autumn statement. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman mentioned training, because I regard a key move to be the Prime Minister's transfer of the responsibility for training from the Department of Employment to the Welsh Office. It gives us a marvellous opportunity in Wales and I have set up a training, enterprise and education unit within the Welsh Office which seeks to bring together those three key sectors of responsibility to formulate future training policies with the training and enterprise councils—the first of which in the United Kingdom was set up in Wales. Those are exciting developments.