HC Deb 16 March 1967 vol 743 cc704-5
30. Mr. S. O. Davies

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if, in view of the persistently and excessively high unemployment in the industrial valleys of South Wales, he will withhold his approval from the building of a new large town on Severnside which would effect the complete economic ruin of these valleys.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. Peter Shore)

In view of the large increase anticipated in the country's population, a study of Severnside has just started to see whether that area might be one of several possible locations for large-scale population inflow. The implications for South Wales and other areas will be most carefully considered during the study and will be fully taken into account before any decision, in the light of the study, is reached.

Mr. Davies

Will my hon. Friend inform his right hon. Friend that South Wales—particularly the old industrial valleys, with their heavy incidence of unemployment—has waited far too long for the Government to do something concrete to establish industry there? Is he aware that, as the Question implies, it would bring about the complete economic ruin of the area if this absurd plan were to go on?

Mr. Shore

The question of the short-term unemployment problem in South Wales comes under the general policy of the Government for helping the development areas. As to the Severnside study, this is covering an entirely different time-scale. It will be some time before we even get the preliminary report from the Central Planning Unit which we have established to carry out this study.

Mr. James Griffiths

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that to a very great extent, a problem in South Wales is also a problem not only in the east but, much more so in the west? Will very serious consideration be given to the necessity of placing industry westward in South Wales?

Mr. Shore

I am ready to give that assurance to my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales is considering this matter, both in the context of short-term policy and in terms of the long-term regional study of Wales.

Mr. Davies

In view of the wholly unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter at the earliest opportunity.