Valleys Initiative

– in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 1st April 1993.

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Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West 4:19 pm, 1st April 1993

With permission, I should like to make a statement about the valleys initiative.

Yesterday, the programme for the valleys—announced by my predecessor, Lord Walker, five years ago—came to an end. The achievements are extensive. First, over 7,000 homes have been improved through enveloping and repair schemes. Secondly, over 2,000 acres of derelict land have been cleared by the Welsh Development Agency, in the largest land clearance programme undertaken anywhere in Europe. Thirdly, nearly £700 million of additional private sector investment has been secured, involving 24,000 jobs. Fourthly, 2·6 million sq ft of new industrial floor space have been created. Fifthly, the most successful of all the national garden festivals was held at Ebbw Vale and another unique festival—Valleys Live '92—promoted, which celebrated the refurbishment of many arts centres under the programme.

Today I am pleased to announce not only that the programme will indeed continue until 1998, but that, over the five-year period, total public expenditure under the programme for the valleys is expected to be well over £1,000 million. Urban and economic expenditure, for instance, is currently running at £175 million, and will continue at that rate through 1993–94.

The most important development over the last five years has, I believe, been the strengthening of local initiative. Many valley communities are now able to work up their own strategies for development and to put together partnerships to implement them.

I want today's launch of the new programme to mark a distinct change in style. The emphasis must shift away from centralised initiatives towards a dynamic and evolving programme, based on local strategies, that responds to the needs and opportunities of local communities and increasingly is driven by local people. I shall therefore be using the full range of the Welsh Office's responsibilities, together with the local authorities and the Welsh Development Agency, to empower local partnerships to implement local strategies.

Thanks to the programme for the valleys, there is now tremendous co-ordination of all the public money being spent in the area. I believe that there is, truly, a vision for the valleys. That vision is promoted by generous sums of taxpayers' money.

The new programme for the valleys will be founded upon a clear set of aims. Every project under the programme will be evaluated on the basis of the following six aims: to create long-term, sustainable employment of improved quality; to make that employment accessible to all the people of the valleys through education, training and transport facilities; to improve the quality of the environment and to maintain it, both as an attraction to business and tourism and, of course, for the benefit of the people of the valleys; to target national health resources more effectively and to establish a health innovation zone for the valleys; to improve the quality and variety of housing; and to encourage local people to take the lead, in partnership with the Welsh Office, the Welsh Development Agency, local councils and the commercial and voluntary sectors.

I believe that there is now widespread agreement that the key to success will be strategies which tackle the local needs of the people of the valleys and the formation of positive partnerships to implement these strategies. That is how we shall strengthen the sense of community and shared values which has always typified the Welsh valleys.

The WDA's urban development business plan for the coming year will build on the partnership approach through further joint activities with local councils and the private sector. Towns where early urban development investment is planned include Pontardawe, Ammanford, Ystradgynlais, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Porth, Tonypandy, Abertillery, Blackwood, Crumlin, Newbridge, Tredegar and Ebbw Vale.

Investment aimed at attracting employment to the valleys should now develop the concept of industrial villages. This is an exciting new idea, and I gladly pay tribute to its many enthusiastic advocates on the Opposition Benches. The WDA is giving increasing attention to supporting the growth of indigenous business in the valleys. Valleys communities must not be relegated to dormitory towns feeding the M4 or the coastal fringe. To help attract employment opportunities to communities, I will encourage local authorities to make full use of the simplified planning zone procedures.

Through a whole range of projects, this new programme will improve the quality of life throughout the valleys. Welsh Development International has established a dedicated team of executives to promote inward investment to the valleys. My Department is participating, with local councils, British Rail and the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, in a joint study of the potential for improved links to Cardiff bay. The road network within the valleys will continue to be improved. Major trunk road improvements are planned for the A470 and the A465, and a bypass for Tredegar will start in 1993–94.

New funding arrangements for higher education have today extended eligibility for research funding to the university of Glamorgan. Part of the programme of grants to assist the Welsh language will be specifically targeted at two valleys areas—the Gwendraeth valley and the Taff Ely valley. Local communities will be encouraged to play a more active role through a further round of the very successful community revival strategy. I shall be inviting new bids in the spring and selecting successful schemes in the autumn. Over the next five years, I plan to invest some £9·25 million in new community hospitals at Ebbw Vale and Torfaen. In 1993–4, local councils associated with the valleys programme will have available to them over £123 million by way of support for their housing programmes. On top of that, Housing for Wales will generate investment of over £40 million to provide new social housing in the valleys next year.

At the site of the extremely successful Ebbw Vale national garden festival, the first new urban village in Wales will be developed. The environment will continue to be improved through the WDA's land reclamation work in the valleys. The WDA is on course to clear all important dereliction in the valleys in three years. The valleys forest initiative will be strengthened. Tourism and leisure will be encouraged under the programme. New community arts facilities will build on the success of Valleys Live. An outdoor activities initiative will be a major new Sports Council for Wales Enterprise for the valleys in the coming financial year. Initially, this will provide increased opportunities for outdoor pursuit activities for children living in the northern valleys area, around Merthyr Tydfil.

The Sports Council for Wales is also working on detailed plans for the development of centres of excellence, which would cover six sports in each of the proposed new unitary authorities. There could therefore, in time, be 36 centres of excellence in place in the valleys.

In the course of this year, the programme will be incorporated into the wider strategy for industrial south Wales, which is currently under development as a framework for the EC's structural funds from 1994 onwards. I will actively encourage and support the take-up of European funds in the valleys. I am determined to see the valleys take a prominent place in Europe. The WDA will be developing its links with Europe, and I expect further links to be made between local strategies in the valleys and corresponding areas elsewhere in the European Community.

This new, five-year programme presents a fresh challenge, opens up new opportunities, and sets a new direction for economic and social regeneration. I particularly welcome the creation of a Valleys Forum, driven by local people, to give a unified voice to all the organisations which are active in the valleys. As it evolves, this body could play a vital role in the future of the valleys, and I look forward to meeting the forum at the earliest opportunity.

This programme should mark the beginning of a new age in the south Wales valleys—an age of ambitions realised, of growing assertiveness and prosperity, and of a generation looking forward to better health and economic prospects than any generation before.

Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Shadow Spokesperson (Wales)

Although I acknowledge that the valleys programme came to an end—I think—yesterday, the timing of this statement could have been better. Of course all hon. Members welcome any new resources for our valleys, just as we have welcomed the various initiatives over the past few years, but any factory building programme, capital schemes or plans for redevelopment in south Wales must have the co-operation of all political parties in the Principality.

Does the Secretary of State accept that we shall need to examine his plans in great detail to ascertain how much of the money is new money and how much is essentially repackaging of plans already in existence? The hospitals in Ebbw Vale and Torfaen, the plans for the redevelopment of some towns and villages in the valleys and the plans for transport development are already very much on the cards in any event. The plans that the Secretary of State has announced are in no way new plans.

We fear that the Secretary of State's proposals do not go far enough; nor do they tackle the fundamental, underlying problems of the valleys. I know that he understands the enormous unemployment problems in our valley towns, which cost the taxpayer almost £300 million a year and whole generations of young people any hope for the future. Whatever reductions in the jobless he might point to, the south Wales valleys still rank as some of the worst black spots in the country.

Does he remember that his predecessor, now Lord Walker, told the House on 14 June 1988: The levels of Government aid envisaged over the next three years would on past experience create over £1 billion of private investment and 25,000 to 30,000 additional jobs."—[Official Report, 14 June 1988; Vol. 135, c. 170.] They have not come, and unemployment has risen during the valleys programme by almost 12 per cent. Does he accept that he has given the House no specific commitment to create jobs, and no real figures? Is he not aware that the valleys have suffered a double blow not only in the loss of our traditional coal and steel jobs but in the decline of the manufacturing and engineering jobs which were meant to replace them?

We welcome the Secretary of State's adoption of our proposals for one-stop shops for local enterpreneurs and industrial villages. A fortnight ago, my hon. Friends the Members for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) and for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) and I met Bruce Millan in Brussels—I understand that the Secretary of State is to do the same—to discuss the need for special European funds for the south Wales valleys. Does the Secretary of State agree that the valleys need a unique type of grant, and that any loss of assisted area status in south Wales generally would have a most serious and detrimental effect on the economy of the south Wales valleys?

Above all, does he realise that the regeneration of the south Wales valleys must ultimately involve a partnership between the Government, properly funded agencies and councils? How can we have a valleys programme when the Welsh Development Agency is concentrating on property development and raising rents to levels beyond the reach of most valley people? How on earth can his initiative be meaningful when he has cut the resources to our valley local authorities? Far from reducing spending, can he not see that one of the best ways to revitalise our valley communities is to build houses by releasing the capital receipts in local authority coffers, repair roads and bridges in the valleys, clean up our towns and stop dereliction in our villages?

Will he acknowledge that the cuts in education and training which he has introduced in the past few weeks will negate any good that might come from this or any other initiative or programme?

Finally, does the Secretary of State not accept that without proper funding of the valley councils, without a recognition that the traditionally radical people of the valleys find the increasing use of government by quango scandalous, and without a long-term vision for our valleys that is both bold and imaginative, the announcement can be seen only as both superficial and cosmetic?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

That is the first time that I have ever heard £1,000 million called "cosmetic". That description merely shows how economically illiterate the Labour party is.

The first thing that the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) said was that the timing of the statement could have been better. I do not know what he means by that. Yesterday the old programme came to an end and today the new programme starts. What better timing could there be than that? I should have thought that he should welcome the statement rather than disparaging it.

The hon. Gentleman's next question was how much new money there was, as if Labour Members and I should take a fleet of lorries down to the Royal Mint in Llantrisant and load them up with something called new money. What we are talking about is nothing so silly. We are talking about £1,000 million in resources over the next five years, and most of the details have not yet been announced. Not only shall I ensure that resources are directed through existing programmes, but, as I have already said, I have several new programmes which I believe will provide a new focus and better targeting.

The hon. Gentleman's next point was that there were no new plans in the statement. Of course, there is a whole range of new plans. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it one way and then claim tribute the other way. He said that I needed the co-operation of all the political parties to achieve a proper partnership in the valleys, and I accept that. That is why I have accepted two ideas as part of the plans that I have announced—the concept of industrial villages and the concept of the one-stop shop. I paid tribute to the Labour party in that connection, and I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman might have acknowledged that.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

Yes, but the hon. Gentleman might have acknowledged it rather than saying that there were no new plans. Those are new plans, and we are talking about a new programme.

In relation to European Community funding, I saw the Commissioner here in the same week in which the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues were travelling off to Brussels. Had the Opposition checked, they would have found out that he was giving evidence to one of the Select Committees of the House. I saw the Commissioner here just a few hours before Opposition Members went over to Brussels to see him, and I said exactly the same. I told him that I wanted to find a way within European funds of maximising receipts for the valleys by treating them as a special case. The Commissioner and I agreed to have exploratory discussions to ensure that that can happen.

The hon. Member for Torfaen went on to disparage what he called government by quango, and to call the Welsh Development Agency—in his terminology, I suppose that that is our premier quango—merely a property agency collecting high rents. That is disgraceful. Many people who work in the Welsh Development Agency are totally dedicated to the full range of programmes, and they will resent the hon. Gentleman's attempt to disparage the agency. In the coming financial year, the WDA. will have a record budget in cash terms and in real terms—more than £170 million. I believe that that is a good investment.

Finally, the hon. Gentleman asked me where the jobs were. He cannot have listened. I said that one of the achievements of the programme has been nearly £700 million in additional private sector investment secured, involving 24,000 jobs. Whereas unemployment in many parts of the world, including, sadly, the United Kingdom as a whole, has risen since the programme for the valleys was launched by Lord Walker five years ago—in the United Kingdom it has risen by 30 per cent., and it has risen in the United States, in France, in Canada, in Australia and in many other countries—in the valleys unemployment has fallen. Unemployment in the valleys is now half a percentage point lower than when the programme started. That means that there are now 10,500 more people in work in the valleys than there would have been if unemployment there had followed the national trend. That is a great tribute to my predecessor, Lord Walker.

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans , Brecon and Radnor

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, unlike the negative attitude from the Opposition Benches, his statement will be warmly welcomed within the Ystradgynlais valley community that I represent in the House? That community has enthusiastically taken on board the valleys initiative and the successes are there to be seen. May I inform my right hon. Friend that his initiative for community involvement will be welcomed in Ystradgynlais where the Ystradgynlais 2000 project, a truly community-based project, has had Welsh Office support and endorsement, and has also recently had an environmental Wales award? In regard to his discussions with the European Commissioner, can my right hon. Friend confirm that European projects will be additional to the announcement that he has made today?

Hon. Members:

Yes or no?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I say yes to that. European-funded programmes in the valleys will be truly additional. I shall work to maximise the valleys' share of the available resources.

On my hon. Friend's first point, I recognise that he has always strongly represented the claims of Ystradgynlais. The community revival strategy, which is a new programme, has worked exceedingly well, and I want to see it continue.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Can the Secretary of State confirm that he has just said that any European funds will be in addition to those that he announced in the statement? If they are, there will be a warm welcome, but we should like detail on that.

When I saw that there was to be a statement today, I, together with many other hon. Members, hoped for an announcement of new and effective changes. I record with regret the fact that, in so many respects, we got a reannouncement of other reannouncements.

The statement means that phase 2 of the valleys initiative is, like its predecessor, likely to be in many respects a cosmetic package that will not reverse the downward trend of Government support for regions, cuts in training and the reductions in real terms for local authorities serving the valleys and other parts of Wales.

Does the Secretary of State recall that, just this week, we heard that counties covering the valleys, like others in Wales, are to lose millions from their budgets in the current financial year for social services and education? That must contradict the purpose which he said he had of trying to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the valley communities.

If the Secretary of State wants to take tangible initiatives, may I ask him yet again to allow councils in the valleys to spend their own money on house building and house improvement to generate real jobs and regenerate communities? Will he reverse training cuts in vocational training for unemployed people and people in jobs, to give them the real means to find work for themselves in their valley communities? Without those developments, the statement will deserve the title offered by my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) of yet another cosmetic package.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The right hon. Gentleman lives in a different world. [HON. MEMBERS: "In Ealing."] I do not know where Ealing is, but he lives in a different world. Many of the things he said are untrue. On the first point, on additionality, I have made it clear that European funds coming to Wales are genuinely additional. If the right hon. Gentleman referred to the departmental report for next year, he would see that I have allocated £70 million to meet the Welsh Office share of those genuinely additonal funds.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me to allow councils to use their receipts. As he knows, the autumn statement gave a special dispensation whereby receipts realised this year since the autumn statement can be utilised. His comment about social service cuts is made on a day when a new innovative programme called care in the community is coming in. One county council which I believe has done most to implement the new strategy is Mid Glamorgan county council. He would have done better to pay tribute to that, because the strategic framework document that Mid Glamorgan county council has produced is a model of what can be achieved. It has been produced in conjunction not only with voluntary organisations but with the health authority and the Family Health Services Authority. It is about time that the right hon. Gentleman started to pay tribute to the work of local authorities instead of disparaging the partnership.

Several hon. Members:

rose

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

Order. I am now seeking brisk exchanges, and questions and answers. I must safeguard the other business of the House, which concerns private Members.

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

I do not live in the valleys or represent any part of them, but does my right hon. Friend agree that the generous help that he has announced today in the five-year programme will provide benefit to the whole of Wales, will encourage Wales as a community, will foster the language, will foster the sense of community, will generate increased interest in sport and will generally improve the life style of everyone in Wales?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I agree with my hon. Friend. In years to come, the rest of Europe, which has already expressed great interest in the transformation that has taken place in the valleys, and the rest of the world will come to see the model of how to move from industrial dereliction to new, vibrant, growing communities. That model will be found in the valleys, where, thanks to the communities, the local people, the local authorities, the Welsh Development Agency, the Welsh Office and all the partners combining, it has been an enormous success. We used to have 214 coal mines in the valleys; we now have three. We have not looked back; we have looked forward to the future, and the rest of the world will pay tribute to the valleys for that.

Photo of Mr Alex Carlile Mr Alex Carlile , Montgomery

While the continuation of the valleys initiative is welcome, does the Secretary of State agree that there is a need for a shift of emphasis to the provision of jobs for men with traditional skills and a good record of hard work who continue to face the loss of jobs in the old standard industries of Wales? Will he further agree that an appropriate way for some small part at least of the valleys initiative money to be spent would be on the restoration and preservation of some of the fine miners' institutes which have served Wales so well and which are such an important part of our architecture? [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

He does not know what the Secretary of State is talking about.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

He did not hear the statement.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I do not wish to intervene in the private war on the Opposition Benches, but the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) is right. The Valleys Live arts festival, which has been a tremendous success, was based on the refurbishment of seven of those main cultural centres where the old cultural life of the valleys can be seen.

On the new programmes, the training and enterprise councils covering the valley areas will develop new initiatives on unemployment, such as opportunity shops, to give local people access to new training employment opportunities, and outreach projects to promote employment, enterprise and training.

I must pay tribute to the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands). We have learnt a great deal from some of the suggestions which he has made. I recognise the problem that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery has mentioned.

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

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his splendid announcement today is the icing on the cake for Wales on a day which has seen hospitals attain trust status, schools attain grant-maintained status, the introduction of care in the community and the replacement of the poll tax by the council tax? Is he as dismayed as I am that the shadow Opposition spokesman on Welsh affāirs chose today of all days to hobnob with his union bosses in the TUC?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I was unaware of that; no reason had been given for the non-attendance of the shadow Secretary of State for Wales. If he is indeed meeting the TUC in Wales today, I hope that he is asking unions not to strike and not to cause the problems that will arise from the industrial action tomorrow. The sad fact is that Labour Members are still scared of Arthur Scargill and will not condemn the strike. I agree that today is a great day, when we are bringing power closer to the people through a whole range of new initiatives.

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands , Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

Many good things are happening and will happen as a result of local partnerships, and we welcome the support and endorsement which the right hon. Gentleman gives them.

I was astonished by the omission from the statement of any new training initiative. The vast majority of our problems flow from the simple basic fact that, at present, more than 20 per cent of the men in our communities are out of work and another 20 per cent. are economically inactive—that is more than 40 per cent.—despite the five-year initiative of Lord Walker. Those are the facts of life in our communities. Like his predecessor, will the right hon. Gentleman at least announce a jobs target for this programme so that we can judge it by that success or failure?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The hon. Gentleman is a senior member of the Labour party, and I hoped that he would take the opportunity to condemn tomorrow's industrial action. It is a matter of great regret, and is putting many jobs at risk. It is appalling that Labour Members will not condemn the action.

I have mentioned training on several occasions, because I believe that resources for training are vital to ensure that the quality of life in the whole of the valleys area improves.

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff , Worcester

In the face of the characteristically ungracious response of Labour Members to this welcome announcement today, can my right hon. Friend confirm that it is no exaggeration to say that the programme for the valleys has been one of the most successful initiatives ever taken by the Government in any region of the country? Will he join me in paying tribute to Lord Walker—my right hon. Friend's predecessor in the Welsh Office, and my predecessor in Worcester—for his energy, drive, vision and concern for the people of the valleys, which led him to set up the initiative in the first place?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

: I join my hon. Friend in warmly paying tribute to his predecessor, Lord Walker. We are now discussing an extension to a programme which was opposed at the outset by the Labour party but which is now recognised as one of the most innovative and imaginative programmes ever devised.

Other parts of Britain and Europe certainly agree with what we are saying. There has been an enormous amount of interest from elsewhere in Europe and the Community as well as other parts of central and eastern Europe in what has been achieved in Wales. For example, the Welsh Office has recently been invited to offer advice on the redevelopment of the Frankfurt an der Oder region of the former east Germany. That is an outstanding example of the way in which Wales is seen as the place from which it can be learned how to regenerate an economy and attract investment.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Shadow Spokesperson (Defence, Disarmament and Arms Control)

The Secretary of State will know that, with increasing mobility, there is a real interlinking of economic interests and employment between the valley communities and those communities which are immediately contiguous to the valleys. Will he give the House an undertaking that, in the review of assisted area status, those areas which are contiguous to the valleys, such as Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, will not be downgraded?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are presently conducting a review of assisted areas. I am joined in that study by the President of the Board of Trade, and we shall be announcing our decisions as soon as possible. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was in the House for the whole of my statement.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

He was. I remind the hon. Gentleman, whom I greatly respect, that I was focusing on the need not only to consider the whole infrastructure but to target jobs within the valleys themselves by means of the concept of industrial and urban villages, and so on. Let us ensure that we do not simply become dormitory areas for other centres of population. Let us ensure that we strengthen our local communities in the best possible way.

Photo of Dr Alan Williams Dr Alan Williams , Carmarthen

I am sure that the Secretary of State will agree that the Welsh Development Agency has done some good work over the years in sustaining employment in the valleys, and has a vital role to play in this programme. Can he give some indication of the future funding of the agency? It is selling off property at an alarming rate, which can be sustained for only one or two years at the rate of £80 million a year. Its grant in aid has been cut from £93 million last year to under £60 million this year. What will happen after that? Is it the plan that the agency will have to apply for European money? If that is the case, is not that money earmarked for local authorities and meant to be additional to existing moneys?

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

He is the Wizard of Oz.

Photo of Dr Alan Williams Dr Alan Williams , Carmarthen

Can the Secretary of State tell us something about the funding of the Welsh Development Agency for 1995–96 in this programme?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I heard the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) call me the Wizard of Oz. I would simply say that he is the tin man.

I thank the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) for his tribute to the Welsh Development Agency.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

There is a scarecrow behind you.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I do not want to carry this forward any further. I thank the hon. Member for Carmarthen for his tribute to the Welsh Development Agency, which was in stark contrast to the words of the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy).

In 1993–94, there will be an increase in resources for the agency's urban development programme of 30 per cent. to £13 million in the valleys next year, compared with about £10 million this year. The agency will also be spending nearly £10 million on property development in the valleys. Major joint ventures are under way, for example, in Merthyr Tydfil, Tredegar and the Amman and Gwendraeth valleys.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I congratulate the Secretary of State on undertaking and carrying through one of the most successful initiatives ever launched. What lessons does he think can be drawn from the valleys for the rest of the United Kingdom and Europe?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I welcome what my hon. Friend says. The greatest lesson that we can learn from the programme for the valleys is the way in which all partners—there are many key partners including the Welsh Office, the Welsh Development Agency, local authorities, local voluntary organisations, training and enterprise councils, health authorities, all the other agencies and the people—have decided to come together to make the programme successful. That partnership is a demonstration to other parts of the United Kingdom and Europe which highlights what we have been able to achieve in the valleys in Wales.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain , Neath

I welcome the Secretary of State's determination to ensure that valley villages are not relegated to dormitory areas, and his promotion of the idea of industrial villages, which was first developed at the Neath valley conference last year. I point out that he has not repeated any target for jobs of the sort which his predecessor set of 25,000 to 30,000 new jobs over the past five years—a target which was not achieved. There is a certain shiftiness about the claim that unemployment has fallen because what has happened is that full-time, relatively well paid jobs have been replaced by part-time, badly paid jobs, and adult male unemployment has increased by more than 11 per cent.

The Secretary of State has announced a cut in funding over the next five years in real terms: £1 billion in real terms over the next five years is less than £800 million which was the cost of the past five years. Is he not indulging in a certain sleight of hand and public relations gimmickry?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The hon. Member is not comparing like with like. Rather than go into great detail on the figures, let me assure him that the reason why I announced a figure of well over £1 billion is that I wanted to get away from the sterile arguments about funding and resources and get on with the job of targeting the resources in the most effective way.

As for industrial villages, I know that several Labour Members have urged me not to pay too much tribute to the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), but I disregard all that advice, because his idea has been an excellent one and I am happy to embrace it. I want to build on the successful local strategies of the local authorities and the Welsh Development Agency to ensure that there is close involvement with the training and enterprise councils and others.

The key is to ensure that the full range of support is available to allow local business to grow successfully. We also need to target specific sectors of the market where there is potential—for example, by equipping local industry to supply inward investors through the Source Wales initiative, which holds tremendous prospects for all those involved in the valleys.

Photo of Mr Mark Wolfson Mr Mark Wolfson , Sevenoaks

I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement today for two reasons. First, it demonstrates continuity in the Government's policy by moving from phase 1 to phase 2 of the initiative. Secondly, it supplies an excellent example of where the Government are prepared to put investment into joint ventures with the many others whom he mentioned. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it should be an encouragement to people in coalfield communities and elsewhere, and an example of what can be done?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

We have indeed demonstrated that there is life after coal. The valleys have performed extremely well over many years in supplying much-needed coal for the economy. Now, as the economy changes, the valleys have accepted the challenge of change. They have done so in a marvellous way, to a large extent in response to the extremely good initiative of my predecessor, Lord Walker. It has been an example to everyone. Some Opposition Members shout across the Chamber from time to time, but I know that in private they acknowledge that the programme for the valleys has been a remarkable success.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

Does the Secretary of State agree that his principal purpose today has been to quarry away at the adjective mine and claim the mantle of his predecessor as Wales' principal but most vacuous rant boy? Does he agree that what he has offered today over five years is a tenth of the money that his Government lost in a single day on Black Wednesday? Why does not he leave aside the discredited figures on employment and unemployment and look to every other indicator of poverty in Wales such as personal income per head, family income and low wages? He would find that, in relative and real terms, Wales had lost and is still losing. The valleys of Wales are still the capital of lowest wages and highest exploitation of our workers.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I am increasingly disenchanted with Opposition Members talking down Wales and the valleys. If they want to be misery merchants, they may, but I do not intend to join them.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant , Staffordshire Mid

Is my right hon. Friend aware that jobs in coal mining in the European Community have fallen from 1·86 million to 260,000? Should not the valleys initiative be a model for the rest of Europe? My right hon. Friend has already said that he is advising parts of Germany, but are there not other ways in which the model could be promoted in the European Community and indeed, the United States, where jobs in coal mining are also being lost?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I completely agree. We are seeing the decline of coal mining as an industry throughout the world. In Wales, we demonstrate that there is a way, so long as people accept the challenge of change. I believe that, in five years, people will see a programme which over 10 years has transformed the dereliction of the past into vibrant, growing communities of the future.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

I inquire of the Minister who produced the flatulent statement this afternoon whether the additionality rule has been abandoned for the valleys project. If that is the case, will the additionality rule, which has been applied rigidly throughout the rest of the United Kingdom, be abandoned, for example, in Yorkshire and other coalfield areas?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I do not know why the hon. Gentleman referred to my statement as flatulent. I suppose it is because he is an expert on the matter. I speak for the whole of the United Kingdom when I demonstrate to the European Commission that European funds are genuinely additional. They enable programmes to take place in the valleys and elsewhere in the United Kingdom which would not take place without the support of the EC.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael , Cardiff South and Penarth

Does the Secretary of State recognise that his comments were insulting when he expressed surprise at the idea that Welsh communities can have vision and purpose for their own future? Does he recognise that the Welsh communities have always had vision and purpose, and that they require a Secretary of State who places confidence in them and their elected representatives in pursuing that vision and purpose?

Will the right hon. Gentleman set aside the complacency which he showed earlier when he referred to unemployment as if it was disappearing? Does he recognise the devastation that unemployment causes to communities throughout Wales? Hope has been stolen from a whole generation of young people by the threat of unemployment. Will he tell us a simple target that he has set for providing training opportunities and real jobs for young people in those communities?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

Again, I am pretty depressed when I hear Opposition Members talk the area down and talk about "a whole generation" losing hope. I hope that he recognises that, since 1979, the Conservative Government have picked up the misery which the Labour party left by closing coal mines. We inherited a country in which slag heaps had not been removed and mining communities were dispirited because new jobs had not been provided. We breathed new life into Wales and the valleys. It is about time that Opposition Members began to recognise that.