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Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29 March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East 12:00, 29 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest figure for male unemployment in (a) Newport, (b) Gwent and (c) Wales.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The figures are 6,234, 17,307 and 107,900 respectively.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that in recent weeks Newport has suffered two severe blows: first, the loss of the Marconi factory and 400 high-tech jobs and, secondly, his decision to authorise a waste disposal plant at Newport to be run by a dubious American company which will do considerable harm to the old image of the town? Why does not he listen to the views of the people of Newport on the matter? I assure him that, if he did, his stock would be far higher than it is at present.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

Inviting though that challenge is, I point the hon. Gentleman to the facts. Some years ago 5,424 people were unemployed in his constituency. That figure has now fallen to 4,020. In view of the record level of inward investment and of inward investment projects, combined with regional selective assistance projects, I am hopeful that many hundreds and thousands of jobs will come to Wales during 1993. That should prove to be good news for the whole of south Wales and his area in particular.

Photo of Mr Cynog Dafis Mr Cynog Dafis , Ceredigion and Pembroke North

May I remind the Secretary of State that it is two months since the meeting at which we discussed the report of the west Wales task force—[Interruption.]

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. Would the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Dafis) please resume his seat for a moment? If hon. Members have any complaints to make perhaps they would do so through a substantive motion which I can see and ensure is debated in the House.

Photo of Mr Allan Rogers Mr Allan Rogers , Rhondda

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

I take points of order at the end of questions.

Photo of Mr Cynog Dafis Mr Cynog Dafis , Ceredigion and Pembroke North

It is now two months since the strategy group meeting, following the publication of the report of the west Wales task force. I am sure that the Secretary of State agrees that it is important for momentum and confidence to be maintained in the task force area, but we have heard nothing since that meeting at the end of January. When will the Secretary of State be in a position to give us a progress report on what has happened since the end of January and when will he announce the name of the task force project director?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

First, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that the west Wales task force and the strategy group were set up through a Welsh Office initiative. I have chaired each of the group's meetings and I am determined that it should reach a positive result. On the Withybush project, as he knows, £0·5 million has been allocated to provide meat processing facilities at Withybush next year and officials are liaising closely with Preseli Pembrokeshire to ensure maximum benefit to Withbush and the community that it serves. Will the hon. Gentleman also recognise that several of the projects announced today in and around Dyfed will bring good news to some of his constituents?

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

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that last Friday 260 aerospace workers lost their jobs, adding to the 3,200 unemployed people in my constituency and to the 17,000 who are out of work in my county and taking £3 million a year out of the local economy? That is a serious blow and comes hard on the heels of the recently announced loss of 500 Airbus jobs. May I warn the right hon. Gentleman that the President of the Board of Trade seeks to take development area status from my constituency? I want a commitment from him that he will fight for that status.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

There were several points there. First, on corporate jets, I regret the job losses, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased that Broughton will remain the main manufacturing centre for corporate jets. The hon. Gentleman may recall that unemployment in his constituency alone was more than 5,000 some years ago and that the figure has now fallen considerably. Of course I shall do my best to ensure that Wales has a positive response from the review of assisted area status being conducted by the President of the Board of Trade and myself, but the hon. Gentleman must decide whether to support his party in the Lobby tonight on an amendment that would destroy the opportunity of jobs at the power station.