HC Deb 19 April 1956 vol 551 cc1151-2
7. Mr. Gower

asked the Minister of Labour to make a statement upon the general employment position in Wales; and his estimate of future prospects.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The estimated number in civil employment in Wales in March, 1956, was approximately 927,000. On 12th March the number unemployed was just over 19,000, representing 2 per cent. of the total number of employees. This is the lowest figure for March since the war, and it is reasonable to anticipate that the employment position in Wales will continue to be favourable.

Mr. Gower

Is my right hon. Friend quite satisfied from these figures that redundancy and also unemployment in one or two areas is not likely to spread unduly?

Mr. Macleod

I am never completely satisfied with figures, but it is true to say that the position in March, in Wales as a whole—although there are difficult areas—was better than it has ever been in any March in history, and that is something which we are all delighted to see.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I welcome these interesting figures, but will the Minister bear in mind one fact which is causing anxiety in South Wales, namely, that when there is a depression in an industry such as the motor car industry the subsidiary industries associated with it, which have been established in Wales under the Development of Industry Act, are the first to suffer not only redundancy and short-time, but unemployment. Although, as yet, it has not yet reached very serious proportions, will the Minister consult the President of the Board of Trade to ensure that that fact is borne in mind in any future planning of industry?

Mr. Macleod

I watch that matter very closely. It is true that there is a chain reaction, and it may be particularly true that because of the type of industries which have gone to the Development Areas they are all the more sensitive to this sort of change. It is a matter of which we are conscious.