Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd June 1992.

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Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain , Neath 12:00 am, 22nd June 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about the impact of the recession (a) on Wales and (b) on Neath.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The transformation of the Welsh economy over recent years has left it well placed to weather the effects of the recession. All the indications are that the future prospects for the Welsh economy are very good indeed.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain , Neath

Is the Secretary of State aware that the recession is creating a terrible housing crisis in Wales? People come to my surgeries in tears. One young woman sleeps with her 14-month-old baby on the living room floor of her parents' home because there is nowhere else for her. In another case, two adults, four children and another couple—a total of eight people—live in a three-bedroomed house. Those problems could be solved at a stroke if the Secretary of State would release £500,000 from housing capital receipts funds in Wales and let councils build houses that are so desperately needed. Does the Secretary of State not care about those human tragedies?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

To put the matter in perspective, the number of housing units built in Wales in the past 10 years has risen by 8 per cent., whereas the population has risen by just over 2 per cent. We are putting increased resources into housing. As the hon. Gentleman will know, Housing for Wales is now building a record number of homes and the prospects are very good.

Photo of Mr Walter Sweeney Mr Walter Sweeney , Vale of Glamorgan

Will my right hon. Friend welcome the opening by the Cabot factory in Barry of the new silica fume plant, one of the most modern in Europe?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

Yes, and I was glad that my hon. Friend could he with me on that important occasion—a £48 million investment, promising a state-of-the-art factory and tremendous prospects for the future. Following that opening, the opening of Revlon at Maesteg last week, and the announcement about Northern Telecom, I am glad to announce today an industrial investment package of £28 million involving the planned creation of more than 814 new jobs. I am delighted to make that announcement, which comes as another tremendous boost for Wales.

Photo of Mr Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones , Alyn and Deeside

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that unemployment stands at 124,000 and is rising, and that last year 5,500 manufacturing jobs were lost in Wales? Does not the Chancellor's decision to scrap the National Economic Development Council call into question the whole future of the Secretary of State's planned Welsh economic council? Did the Chancellor consult the right hon. Gentleman before he made his statement?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong. Our plans for the Welsh economic council continue and we shall shortly issue a consultation paper. On unemploy-ment, the figures for the hon. Gentleman's constituency show that in July 1986, 4,274 people were unemployed; in June 1987, the figure had fallen to 3,689; in April 1992, it had fallen to 2,923; and last month, it fell again to 2,855. The prospects for his constituency and for Wales are very good.

Photo of Mr Rod Richards Mr Rod Richards , Clwyd North West

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, were it not for the Government's policies, the impact of the world recession on Wales would have been far more severe?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I am delighted that my hon. Friend asks me that question, because we have seen a transformation of Wales in the past 10 years. The offers of regional assistance accepted by employers since 1979 are forecast to save more than 50,000 jobs in Wales and to create more than 100,000 new jobs. The transformation of Wales has secured its future.