§ 4.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes)
I am very glad that we have the opportunity today of debating the White Paper on Wales: The Way Ahead, and I hope that that will meet with the agreement of the House.
I have never before known a document to be so severely criticised before it has even been published. I know that there are a few people in Wales who are convinced that nothing we do in the Welsh Office can be right. The remarkable thing is that people in other parts of Great Britain say that we are much too effective.
Despite what the few critics have to say, I would submit that Wales: The Way Ahead is a very important first step in economic planning for Wales. For the first time a document brings together all the issues which bear on the economic, social and cultural life of the Principality. It looks as far forward as is practicable, the period for which it is possible to do this varying from sector to sector.
It has been suggested that the Welsh Economic Council should have been more directly responsible for the document. What is really important is that much of the Government policy set out in the White Paper for example, the policies on roads, on the future of our mining valleys and on our areas of rural depopulation is policy determined in the light of the valuable advice given by the Welsh Economic Council. But the commitment was to produce a White Paper by the Government and that is what we have carried out.
This does not, of course, mean that the Welsh Economic Council will not have a major part to play in the further planning work that is needed. On the contrary, the White Paper is a first step and the Council will have a major part to play in taking the work forward. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister of State will have an opportunity of elaborating this.
I would like to take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the Minister of State upon her chairmanship of the Welsh Economic Council. Members of the Council would, I am sure, agree with 675 me that she has acquitted herself with distinction during a difficult period when so many complicated and important issues have been before them. In paying this tribute to my hon. Friend, I would like to thank the Council as a whole for its valuable advice to the Government—advice which is reflected in many of the policies introduced by the Government in recent months.
"Wales: The Way Ahead" is a Government White Paper; it is not a report by an advisory council. That explains, of course, the fundamental differences between it and some of the documents produced for the economic planning regions of England.
The White Paper covers such a wide range of subjects that, in this opening speech, I must, in deference to the House, be very selective, and I am conscious that we have made a late start. I would like to concentrate on what I regard as the most urgent single problem facing Wales today—that of employment—and I would like to start by saying something about the job-gap calculation given in the White Paper.
This calculation, which was made in March of this year and based on policies and prospects as they then stood, was of the possible difference between the supply of labour in 1971 and the amount of employment then available. No precision was claimed for a projection of this kind: it was intended only to give an idea of the order of magnitude of the employment problem facing us in the years ahead. Since there may be references by hon. Members to this calculation, it is important that I should explain how it was developed. I know that many of my hon. Friends are interested in this.
The estimate of the supply of labour starts with the Registrar General's estimate that in 1971 the home population of Wales aged 15 and over will include 1,010,000 males and 1,100,000 females. It is then assumed that, in 1971, the "activity rate", that is, the proportion which total employees—the employed and the unemployed, but not the self-employed—constitute of the home population aged 15 and over will be 67 per cent. for males and 32 per cent. for females. This compares with 67½ per cent. for males and 301 per cent. for females in mid-1966.
676 As the White Paper stresses, the making of assumptions about activity rates is hazardous because the demand for, and supply of, labour are inter-related. The rates assumed for 1971 take account of such factors as the tendencies in Britain in recent years for male rates to fall and female rates to rise; the raising of the school-leaving age, the changing age distribution of the population; and the relatively large amount of self-employment which is likely to persist in Wales. On the basis of these considerations, it is assumed that the male rate will continue to fall, but less sharply than in Great Britain as a whole; and that the female rate will continue to rise, though a little more slowly than in recent years.
Deductions are then made from the supply of labour for those who are moving between jobs, those likely to be affected by short-term fluctuations in demand, and those who, because of age or disability, would have difficulty in finding employment. These deductions are equivalent to about 15,000 males and 5,000 females. These figures have regard to the relatively heavy incidence of disability in Wales and to the experience of recent years, in which total unemployment has rarely fallen below 2 per cent even in mid-summer.
I want to emphasise that these figures are purely working assumptions—they must not be regarded as implying that the Goveriment would not hope to be able to achieve in due course a still lower level of unemployment. The net result is an estimate that the total effective supply of labour in 1971 will be about 660,000 males and 345,000 females.
The future demand for labour was assessed on the basis of projected trends, modified by what was known about the plans of particular industries, such as coal, steel and manufacturing, and assuming no change in Government policies current at the time of the calculation. This produced an estimate of about 645,000 jobs for men and about 350,000 jobs for women.
Once again, estimates of this kind cannot pretend to be precise, but the Government have access to a good deal of information about employment trends and prospects. Allowing for compensating errors—swings and roundabouts—the global figures were as realistic and 677 reasonable a forecast as could be made in March.
On balancing supply and demand the estimates showed a job deficiency for males of 15,000. In the case of females supply and demand would be roughly in balance in 1971—
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydfil)
On that very important set of figures in anticipation of what is likely to happen, has my right hon. Friend considered the depopulation of Wales and the people who are leaving every year, if not every month'? Has he any idea how many will have left by 1971?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. As I develop my theme, I think that he will appreciate that these things have been taken into account.
These are not, of course, forecasts of what will happen, but rather of what might have happened if nothing were done to improve on the prospects as they stood in March 1967, when the original calculation was made. I want to deal with this, since it has been criticised.
The calculation was done as carefully and as honestly as possible by the Welsh Office, in the closest possible consultation with other Government Departments. There have been suggestions outside the House that somehow or other the "books were cooked ". This has been said and I categorically deny this charge. Those who know anything about these things will readily appreciate the dangers of deliberately either deflating or inflating the figures.
During public discussion of the White Paper frequent references have been made to job gap figures produced by members of the Department of Economics, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. These are the figures which have been hurled at the Government from political platforms in Wales in recent months to show us how false our own calculations are. I am not quite sure which of the various job-gap figures calculated at Aberystwyth I should take. There 'were several. In a report which I commissioned from the Department of Economics there were 42,000, 51,000. 64,000, 76,000, 119,000, 141,000, 197,000 and 221,000.
These figures were calculated on the basis of various assumptions of varying degrees of realism. I leave it to the 678 House to judge how realistic were the assumptions which produced the figure of 221,000. These are the figures which the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) has been playing about with for the last few months.
One of the assumptions was that the male activity rate in Wales in 1970 would be equal to the male activity rate in the United Kingdom in 1964. But the truth is that the male activity rate in the country as a whole has declined since 1964 and is expected to continue to decline. To assume that the activity rate in Wales will move against this trend and to be higher than the national rate will be in 1970 is hardly realistic. This is where the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) went astray in his supplementary question today.
On the demand side, the method used in Aberystwyth was much more sophisticated. It involved the construction of an input-output model for the Welsh economy, based on the position in Wales under the previous Administration and before radically new policies for Wales were introduced by the present Administration. From this model, estimates of the output in each main industry were derived, and labour demands estimated.
But, as the authors themselves say,the input/output model described here as a theoretical contribution to this planning problem is at a very rudimentary stage";and, even more significantly, they say:It has no pretensions to being even a cloudy crystal-ball, let alone one of perfect clarity.Some people in Wales have been saying that they can recognise these figures to be true with perfect clarity. That is not what the authors of the document have said.
I believe that the work which is being done at Aberystwyth in this field is pioneering work of great potential value. But at this stage in its development I am not prepared to accept the figures derived from it in preference to the careful calculations of demand made by Government Departments who not only have the latest available figures in their possession, but are also able to take account of the far-reaching new policies for Wales introduced since October, 1964.
I want to move on to the economic situation in Wales and to indicate how the strategies spelt out in the White 679 Paper have been developed and implemented in recent months.
First, let me deal with the coal industry. I do not want to retread ground already covered, or anticipate a debate on fuel policy, but there are some points which are relevant to today's debate. My hon. Friend the Minister of State has already said in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) that the Government allowed for a reduction in coal-mining employment in Wales of 20,000 by 1971 in calculating the likely demand for labour in that year. This means that the job-gap calculation does not need to be revised in the light of recent events. That figure was taken into account when the White Paper was published in July and the calculation was made in March this year. The reduction is equivalent to about one-third of the number of men on colliery books; this is in line with the national trend.
Over the next few years the average reduction in manpower will be about 5,000 a year—which is, in fact, almost exactly the same as the average for the last 10 years when the labour force in the mines has been reduced by 50,000 men. This does not make the problem any less serious. Indeed, to the extent that a reducing number of collieries adds to the difficulties of redeploying men within the industry within daily travelling distances of their homes the problem is exacerbated.
One of the primary tasks of the Government in Wales is to do everything within our power to replace the job opportunities which will inevitably be lost in coal mining. What we have done is to try to pinpoint those parts of the coalfield which seem likely to be faced with the most serious problems and to make special assistance available in those areas. In Wales, the special development areas cover 20 Ministry of Labour employment exchange areas. They fall into two large zones—one in West Glamorgan and East Carmarthenshire—roughly from the Rhondda to Ammanford—and one straddling the Glamorgan-Monmouthshire boundary. A small section of South Brecon is included in this latter area. The full extent of the 680 areas can be gauged from the fact that they contain about one-sixth of the total insured population of the Welsh Development Area.
Members will want to know the main factors which were taken into account in selecting the special areas. Why were these two zones selected in preference to other sections and parts of the development area? These were the factors taken into account. The colliery closure programme so far as it was known; the redeployment prospects within the industry; the likely age-structures of those declared redundant; the plans for expansion by various firms in the areas affected; the general potential of the areas for industrial development; travel-to-work opportunities; and the current unemployment situation.
Some parts of the coalfield have been excluded, but the reason is simply that they do not satisfy all these criteria. And it is vitally important to concentrate the special help in those areas where it is most likely to be most needed. If it is spread too thinly over the ground we might well be condemning to death many of the remoter communities faced with the most difficult problems. This we shall not do—indeed, the Government made it plain in Wales: The Way Ahead that they rejected any policy which assumed the disintegration of substantial valley communities. That is the Government's policy.
The measures themselves are, in part, an intensification of existing measures. They include five-year rent free concessions for Government-owned factories—a very important concession; industrialists coming to the special areas will have a factory tailor made to requirements and can apply for a period free of rent—building grants of 35 per cent. for factories built by industrialists for themselves; and loans at moderate rates of interest to assist with the balance of the building costs or for other purposes. There will also be a continuous programme of advance factories in the special areas as long as they are needed and as long as letting prospects remain reasonable.
In addition, there will be the valuable new operational grants paid for the first five years to new projects being brought into the special areas from outside the 681 development areas. This does not apply when there is a transfer from a development area to a special area. These will normally be at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum on the cumulative expenditure incurred cm buildings, plant and machinery, less any building or investment grants, and will be of special assistance to new projects during what might be called the settling in period.
Despite this generous assistance, however, we must face the fact that it will be difficult to replace all the jobs that may be lost in some areas in those same localities. The Government recognised this in tie White Paper and so developed the strategy of building up growth areas more or less along the line of the mouths of the valleys. In general, such areas are more attractive to industry, and yet they are near enough to the valleys themselves to enable the people from the valleys to travel daily to work.
In line with this my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade has announced the decision to establish or expand industrial estates at Bridgend, Kenfig, Landore and Fforestfach. In all, these proposals will involve bringing into use about 350 acres of land upon which new factories and plants will be built.
I would not want Members to be left with the impression that future industrial development will be restricted to these areas; far from it. For the last year, we in the Welsh Office with the Board of Trade have been engaged on compiling a register of industrial sites in Wales, and this work, apart from some detailed mapping, is now virtually complete. The register shows that there is available an extensive industrial land bank in Wales which provides a wide choice of sites for any industrialist interested in establishing a project in the Principality.
In the White Paper reference was made to the particularly convenient location of Llantrisant for growth—situated as it is near the largest concentrations of valley populations and equally to Cardiff and the coast. I hope to announce within a few weeks the name of the firm of consultants I shall commission to do the study. The aim is that it shall begin its work in January and submit its report to me in the late summer or autumn of next year. This is another instance of 682 the strategy for South Wales working out in practice.
I now come to communications and their importance in terms of this same strategy. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of communications in the context of industrial development in Wales. In the first place, the provision of additional jobs along the line of the mouths of the valleys to met the needs of those living in the valleys calls for an improvement in communications. As part of our plan to help the special development areas, we are engaged in discussions with the highway authorities on half a dozen major schemes which are specifically intended to improve travel to work facilities.
But, on a broader front, I do not think that anyone reading the White Paper can be left in any doubt about the importance which we attach to extending the M4 motorway beyond its present terminal west of Newport. We say in the White Paper that this is our "most important single objective".
I met a deputation of South Wales local authorities to discuss this proposal in July, when it was agreed to set up a technical working party consisting of officials of the Welsh Office, the Cardiff Borough Council and Glamorgan County Council to consider the timing and phasing of an intermediate by-pass for Cardiff in relation to improvements needed within Cardiff itself. This working party has made good progress. Its report will be particularly useful in considering schemes in the Cardiff area. Events since the working party was set up have, however, given added emphasis to the need for a good new road across the Vale of Glamorgan which will make the industrial sites in this area even more attractive and will improve communications all through to West Wales.
In one sense, we do not need to decide on the priorities now. But it is the Government's intention to start work on the preparation of a dual carriageway road by-passing west Cardiff and serving the mouths of the Glamorgan valleys as soon as practicable. A route for this road from St. Mellons to near Bridgend has been safeguarded by the Glamorgan County Council in its county development plan. The county council saw, quite rightly, the future importance of such a road serving the mouths of the South 683 Wales Valleys, and I should like to pay a tribute to it for its initiative in protecting this route. It is, however, no longer right that this responsibility should rest with the Glamorgan County Council. The road now has national importance, and the Government have, therefore, now decided to assume responsibility for protecting the line of this road and for meeting future safeguarding costs.
So far as our major towns are concerned, they clearly have good prospects as office centres. This has been recognised by the Government in a very tangible fashion. Since 1964, decisions to locate Government offices in Wales will mean an addition of nearly 10,000 office jobs for the Principality—mainly in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. During the last few months, the three major dispersal decisions taken by the Government have been in favour of Wales. I refer, of course, to the Ministry of Transport computer centre for Swansea—where there may be nearly 4,000 jobs—as against 2,500 when the decision was announced—a Ministry of Defence branch for Cardiff—where there will be 1,500 jobs—and the Royal Mint for Llantrisant.
All this is in line with the strategy set out in the White Paper.
Before I move on from the purely industrial scene, I would like to put the record straight on advance factories. Outside Mid-Wales, where there are special arrangements, 32 advance factories have been approved by the Government. When announced, they totalled over half a million square feet, but, since then, several of them have been or are being extended to meet the requirements of tenants. The most spectacular extension is at Bridgend, where an advance factory of 25,000 square feet is being enlarged to over 110,000 square feet.
The total investment on this programme is in excess of £3½ million—which is clear proof of the Government's determination to invest in the future of Wales. Of the 32 factories announced, 16 have been completed or are nearly complete. Four of these have been let. The other 16 are either under construction or will shortly be started. Four of these have also been let. If the Government had dictatorial powers, of course, faster pro- 684 gress could no doubt be made in the building of these factories, but we do not believe in riding roughshod over the rights of the individual. We have to go through the normal processes, and this is right.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to advance factories. Are the 32 Development Commission and Board of Trade together?
§ Mr. Hughes
The 32 factories are Board of Trade. There are eight Development Commission factories, and I shall refer to those in a moment.
Ten of the factories which have not been let are in the special development areas, and the new measures for these areas should appreciably improve their letting prospects. In any case, I am sure that, with the expansion resulting from the export-led growth triggered off by devaluation, the letting prospects of all the advance factories and other empty factories in Wales will improve.
Despite all that has been done by way of new policies and decisions to solve the problems of Wales—problems arising from the restructuring of industry—the rate of unemployment in Wales still causes me great concern. But I want to get one matter into the right perspective before the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) interrupts me. The truth is that we are still suffering in Wales from the "wasted years", when virtually the whole of Wales was descheduled as a development area—a decision which led to a concentration of special efforts on Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North-East Coast and to a free-for-all development bonanza in the Midlands and the South-East of England. That happened before 1964, and I make no complaint about what was done Scotland, Northern Ireland, and on the North-East Coast. It was good work which needed to be done. But the fact is that, throughout, we pointed out time and time again that the consequences for Wales would be disastrous, and those comments are on record in HANSARD.
Let me give the House just a few figures to show how the previous Administration neglected Wales. In 1961, about 2.5 million sq. ft. of factory space was approved for Wales; in 1962, it was 2.1 million sq. ft.; in 1963, it was as low as 685 1.6 million sq. ft.; and, in 1964, 3.2 million sq. ft.—a total in the last four years of Tory rule of 9.4 million sq. ft. In 1965, our first full year in power, the total eras 4.5 million sq. ft., and, in 1966, it was a record 9.3 million. During the first 10 months of this year, the total was 6 million sq. ft. In three years, we shall have done more than twice as much as they did in four years.
Since it may take two or three years to translate industrial development approvals into actual jobs, it is possible to trace the unemployment problems of Wales in recent years back to the days when the Tories were in power. They knew what the decline in coal was to be. It was not a mystery to them. They took part in planning it. The jobs which we need today—the jobs we needed last year—should have been put into the pipeline by the Tories. They had the chance. But they were not. They are being put in now by us in large numbers, but in this, as in other fields, we cannot, despite all our efforts, make good overnight the omissions of our predecessors.
There are at the moment about 23,000 firm jobs in prospect in manufacturing industry in Wales. Of the 23,000, 15,000 are for men, and this is an encouraging proportion. These are jobs which are likely to be realised during the next four years—jobs which will flow from our record-breaking approval of industrial development certificates. About 1,000 of the dispersal jobs I referred to have already materialised. We can look forward to the other 10,000 or so over the next six years. Then again, the introduction of the Regional Employment Premium scheme is expected to result in an additional 6,000 to 9,000 jobs in manufacturing industry in Wales. These jobs should also be realised in about four years or so. Indeed, some of these—
§ Mr. E. Rowlands (Cardiff, North)
To clarify one thing, are the 6,000 to 9,000 jobs in addition to the 23,000?
§ Mr. Hughes
I will deal with that point now. My hon. Friend is right. It would be wrong to add all these figures together into a total of the number of jobs now in prospect. They have at one stage, I think mistakenly, been added up in a newspaper to form a global total. 686 This is a mistake, and I am glad to have the opportunity of correcting it.
Indeed, some of these are almost certainly reflected in the large number of firms jobs in prospect at present. Furthermore, the new measures which are to apply in the special development areas are certain to induce more industry into Wales—not at the expense of the rest of the Welsh development areas—but as a straight bonus. The impact of the decision to establish or extend Board of Trade industrial estates will also be considerable since these estates, when fully developed, will accommodate up to 19,000 new jobs. And finally there is the short term benefit of 3,000 or so jobs which are expected to arise this winter as a result of special action to ease unemployment.
It would be wrong to add all these figures together into a total of the number of jobs now in prospect. To some extent they overlap—and, in any case, they cover different time scales. But they all point in one direction—towards the improving economic prospects of Wales. They are an impressive and encouraging prospect. I do not underrate the considerable task still facing us but I am confident that the wide and generous range of measures which are available to assist the development and the special development areas—will put us in a most advantageous position to attract new industry as the export-led boom arising from devaluation gets under way.
In three years we have created a situation whereby we can take advantage of expansion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they had the opportunity, failed to create a situation where we could take advantage of expansion. These benefits will be felt throughout Wales, which is as it should be, because the problems are not confined to one part of the country.
Over the last three years we have built up, primarily through the Welsh Office, a much closer relationship between Government Departments in Wales who are concerned with employment and industry. This is, of course, absolutely vital and if we are to plan effectively for the future—and if prompt action is to be taken to deal with the problems of an area which is affected by, for example, pit closures.
687 The Controllers of the economic Departments in Cardiff are in daily contact with Welsh Office officials and with each other and the practice has developed that they report to the Secretary of State for Wales as well as to their own Ministers.
The increased pace of industrial development in Wales has added greatly to the work of the Board of Trade in particular, and this has been matched by an increase in their staffing—including the opening of a North Wales office—and in the staffing of the Industrial Estates Corporation. There is also more work falling on BOTAC and it has been decided to locate some BOTAC staff in Cardiff so that applications for grants and loans can be speeded up. This is a matter which has been causing concern to my hon. Friends over a period of months. I have already talked a good deal about South Wales and perhaps I could now say a few words about the rest of Wales.
Steady progress is already being made with our policy for stemming the drift of population from Mid-Wales.
Depopulation has been the great problem of the area for close on a century. At last we have a Government with a policy to stem it. Many would like to see us move faster but I would urge the critics—and I know that in many cases they are constructive—to appreciate that we are travelling along largely unchartered waters and it is important that our policies do not come to grief because of undue haste or faulty navigation. To anyone who still doubts the attractiveness of Mid-Wales as a location for new industry, I suggest he should visit the area to see some of the modern industries located there in recent years. Let them, for instance, go to Welshpool to see the Floform factory, which I had the privilege of opening recently—and I am sure they will come away convinced that the potential of the area is very considerable.
In North Wales too the strategies outlined in the White Paper have been developed. The prospects for industrial North East Wales continue to be very good. The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) will be delighted about this. In the Wrexham area, for instance there have been substantial industrial developments approved and these promise 688 between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs over the next 3 or 4 years. Indeed, in terms of jobs in prospect this area is truly the most prosperous in the whole of Wales. On Dee-side—much to the satisfaction of my hon. Friend the Minister of State—the level of unemployment remains satisfactorily below the national average. Further progress has been made with the study of the Dee Crossing. The consultants' report which was presented in the Spring of this year demonstrated that, among various feasible schemes, one which combined a crossing with water conservation at a cost of some £75 million would bring benefits estimated to be worth £115 million. Such a crossing would, of course, have a major impact on population distribution and traffic flows, and would greatly enhance the prospects of encouraging economic growth not only in the immediate vicinity of the Crossing itself but all along the North Wales coast as far west as Caernarvon and Anglesey. This could bring great benefits, and we must be careful in our study of the development to make sure that the inheritance of beauty which we have in North Wales is fully protected by adequate planning.
A discussion will be held next week between the Government Departments concerned and local interests to consider further engineering investigations and traffic and planning studies.
It would not be right or politic for me in this wide ranging review to overlook the problems of North West Wales. The level of unemployment in the area continues to be much too high. To many hon. Members the problem may seem small in comparison with those facing the older industrial areas of Wales but in fact in terms of the number of people out of work the situation is serious.
§ Sir Eric Errington (Aldershot)
In fact, the number of people unemployed is not considerable. The percentage of unemployed is high, but the number involved near Holyhead is about 200.
§ Mr. Hughes
I will deal with this as I proceed. The fact of the matter is that unemployment in Anglesey is unacceptably high. Depopulation has persisted over a long time, but the activity rate is low. If the hon. Member looks at the figures I think he must agree that this is the case.
689 In Anglesey, for instance, there are over 1,000 people out of work, and well over 2,000 in Caernarvonshire.
It is a matter of concern to me and to the local authorities in Anglesey that when construction work at Wylfa begins to tail off next year the problem will become even more serious—not only in Anglesey but over a wide area of North West Wiles, because men travel from as far away as Blainau Festiniog to work in the power station at Wylfa, and there is an urgent need for major industrial development in this part of Wales. For that reason, every effort is being made to induce new industry to the area, which is not remote and which has a large number of most attractive features. Not least of these is the wide range of modern facilities—particularly in the electronic field—at Bangor University which could be of enormouse benefit to suitable industries setting up in the area. We have near Bangor at Llandegai a prestige factory where an industry, if it settled there. could work in close co-operation with the electronic department of Bangor Univesity. This is the sort of development that we want to see. We cannot keep North Wales as a preserve for holidaymakers. We appreciate the importance of the tourist trade, we appreciate the importance of preserving the beauties and amenities of the area, and, as a native of the area, it is my concern to do so; but it is equally important that there should be work for the people who live there.
§ Sir E. Errington
The answer to that must surely be that we want smaller industries, not the larger industries which will upturn the whole of the county.
§ Mr. Hughes
This has been the policy of the Government. They have built advance factories, as the hon. Member for Aldershot knows, in Pwllheli, Caernarvon, Llangefni and Holyhead, and another is projected for Amlwch. This is the policy of Her Majesty's Government, but the decision whether industry should go into an area must be the decision of the people of the area.
I want to say a few words about infrastructure. I will curtail myself to two points. One is roads and the other is housing.
First, roads. I have already referred to the Mid-Glamorgan road. Of course, 690 it takes some time—about four years—for important road schemes to progress from an idea to the letting of an actual contract. We are seeing whether we can reduce this period by the use of concurrent procedures and by adopting critical path techniques to control the preparatory work. In a democracy like ours we must however allow time for the general public, whose interests are directly affected by major road works, to make their views and their objections known and there is little scope therefore for substantially shortening the preparation period.
This means, of course, that the major schemes on which the Welsh Office are now engaged and the schemes which have been recently completed are schemes started by the previous Administration. They are good schemes—I do not deny that. The previous Administration seems, however, to have considered them as meeting practically the whole Welsh need. The programme we inherited ran down after 1966–67, with the M4 ending just to the west of Newport, with gaps at either end of the Heads of the Valleys Road, with bottlenecks remaining on the A48 road and with very little done in West Wales. I give credit where it is due, but we have to look at the whole picture. We have now set the programme on a new sharply upward path. The road programme will be the fastest growing major sector of public expenditure in Wales. We have far more schemes at the moment in the preparation pool than have ever existed before.
Not all our expenditure will be incurred on major schemes. In much of Wales the volumes of traffic do not justify new dual carriageway roads and on any sensible system of priorities we must concentrate most of our effort where the need is greatest. Our aim is to improve those lengths of trunk road which are less densely trafficked to good single carriageway standards by improving the horizontal and vertical alignments and resurfacing to a good width so that traffic can proceed smoothly and safely. This is a problem which arises most acutely in connection with the main roads in Mid-Wales and in particular with the concept of developing high standard routes running from north to south and from east to west. They are projects which have a strong emotional appeal in Wales.
691 Finally, housing. In the White Paper the Government set a housing target for Wales—100,000 in the next five years, an average of 20,000 a year. I am very pleased to be able to tell the House that in the first 10 months of this year 17,000 new dwellings were completed in Wales. It is hazardous and perilous to make forecasts in these matters because a good deal depends on the weather, but I am reasonably confident that the full year will see us break the 20,000 barrier for the first time in our history. And with over 22,000 dwellings now under construction the prospects for next year are equally good. Here is yet another example of the strategy of the White Paper working out in practice.
I apologise to the House for having taken up so much time, but this is a vital debate on an important document. The White Paper has been greatly—and I think unfairly—criticised, but I am proud to commend it to the House today and to predict that time will prove it to have been a significant publication for Wales and the Welsh people. It is a mere four months since it was published but I believe it will be already clear to the House that energetic action has been taken on the lines laid down in the White Paper.
It is not the final chapter in the story of what needs to be done to solve the problems of Wales, far from it, but I suggest to the House that it is a most encouraging first chapter and that the full story will stand the test of time.
I conclude by reading the last paragraph of the Foreword to the White Paper:There are both challenges and opportunities. We are seeking ways in which the people of Wales may hope to lead fuller lives with less exposure to the chill winds which have marred so much of our history. The Government are determined that, as the economy of the nation gathers strength, a due share of its swelling resources will be devoted to the needs of Wales and of other less developed parts of the United Kingdom. Our aim must be to create a dynamic, outward-looking Wales, proud of its traditions and making its rightful contribution to the life of these islands.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
I do not want particularly to challenge many of the right hon. Gentleman's figures, but I shall have a few things to say later on the question of industrial development. 692 The right hon. Gentleman was a little unfair on one point. What matters to people is whether they are employed or not. The average unemployment in 1964 was 2.6 per cent., and the average this year is 4.1 per cent. It is not much good building more factories unless we produce work for them.
Before turning to the White Paper—incidentally, it looks like a Blue Book to me, but I suppose I am wrong—I want to fire a few shots across the Secretary of State's bows about local government boundaries in Wales. As the House knows, South Wales is almost unaffected, but North Wales is very much affected. There is the proposal to have one county for the whole of North Wales. Very many different views have been expressed about this. My view is that it is wrong. It is too big, the distances are too great, communications are bad, and there is no genuine community of interest, but there are other reasons.
Again and again in the White Paper on Local Government Boundaries it says that when the Royal Commission on Local Government in England and Scotland has reported, the Government's plans might have to be modified. It seems that there are two things that we can do. Either say, "We will go on, and to hell with the Royal Commission on England and Scotland," or we can say, "We will wait for it", but to say, "We will go on with our plans and then modify them" seems a foolish thing to do, indeed.
What every local government officer has complained to me about with regard to the White Paper is the vagueness of finance. They cannot make head nor tail of the Secretary of State's intentions about finance. I do not think that people can reach sensible conclusions unless they know rather more about them.
The last point on this is that, as I understand it, on every previous occasion when there have been changes in district council boundaries these have been set in motion by the county councils themselves after public inquiries. it is right that if we have these modifications the county councils should be given directions about the general size of their district councils, but it seems to me that it is they who after local inquires should lay down exactly what the boundaries should be 693 because these boundaries are not of historical interest, they are not sacrosanct, and there may be small modifications which may be useful.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
It was not due to discourtesy to the right hon. Gentle- man that I did not mention that White Paper, and certainly there will be no discourtesy on the part of my hon. Friend if she does not refer to it in winding up, because we are debating the White Paper, Wales: the Way Ahead. The fact is that we are meeting local authority associations and local authorities throughout Wales in appropriate groups. It is physically impossible to meet each local authority individually, because there are more than 180 of them, but they will be given an opportunity to be heard and we will consider any submissions which may be made to us.
§ Mr. Birch
I am well aware that the right hon. Gentleman is doing that, and I know that he has not completed his consultations. I said that I was firing a few shots across his bows, and I hope that one or two of them might chip the front of his ship.
I turn now to the so-called White Paper. I must own, in spite of the right hon. Gentleman's peroration, that I find it on the whole a rather tedious document. I have ploughed through it. Again and again a problem is set out, and one asks what the Government are doing about it. The conclusion is that we must wait and see, further thought must be given, and so on.Ah what a dusty answer gets the soulWhen hot for certainties in this our life!It is right that they should be vague on many things. It is very refreshing to see the truth told in a Government White Paper. As in many things, basically they do not have a clue. But there are things which the Government can and should do. The Government must do the things which people and firms cannot do for themselves. I want to make a few specific and clear suggestions about some of the things which might be done.
I propose to deal first with agriculture, which file Minister did not have time to mention. It would be a good thing if the message went out from this House how deeply we feel that farmers in Wales 694 should have been afflicted. It is a ghastly business. Not only is there immediate financial loss, but the loss of a life's work in a single day through no fault of their own. It is terrible. It is not merely a question of loss; there is also the grinding anxiety of people who fear they may be affected.
As a result of devaluation farmers' costs will increase. The cost of fuel will rise, as will the cost of feeding stuffs and fertilisers. On the other hand, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said in the devaluation debate, devaluation makes it much more desirable than before that we should produce more of our food at home.
How shall we do that? I do not doubt that the plan we put up at the last election is the only one that is likely to work—that is to say, the import levy system. If we ever get into the Common Market we should have to introduce it, and now we have time to spare. We can modify the Common Market scheme as we like. We can give support to hill farmers and introduce modifications at our own pace. This is the only way in which we shall be able to increase agricultural production in Wales or anywhere in Britain.
If we try to do it by the existing subsidy means the budget, which is already over-strained and under constant review by our creditors, will get completely out of hand, whereas under an import levy scheme we can take the burden off the budget because the levies are paid into the Exchequer. This is the only way to do it, and it is vital that we should do it.
I now turn to the question of industrial development in Wales. We must go in for the growth point system to a much greater extent. This, again, is what my right hon. Friend said in the devaluation debate. All the lessons are that if we spread the margarine too thinly we do not get any useful results, and we put ourselves at risk. If anything goes wrong industrially it is the isolated factory which is apt to be shut down altogether.
Why were North-East and South-East Wales excluded from the Welsh development area? Surely the reason is that they were successful growth points, because they were placed correctly and had the natural economic advantages which are required for a viable national economy. We should be trying much 695 more—and the right hon. Gentleman certainly made a faint gesture in this direction—to pick out certain areas as those which we should develop, and put the infrastructure right there, and not spread the thing thinly everywhere.
The present policy produces some very extraordinary results. A firm in my constituency, called Ega Tubes, which makes plastic tubes and boxes used to encase electrical wires in buildings was set up under the régime of Lord Brecon, when Rhyl and the Rhyl employment area was a development district, which it is not now. A bit of de-scheduling as well as re-scheduling has gone on.
This firm has been very successful. It has a very good home trade and a good and developing export trade. It has already expanded once and wants to expand again on its land. But the land is in Flintshire, which is not a development area, whereas if it builds a new extension on its car park it will be building in the development part of Denbighshire, so that it will receive the S.E.T. subsidy and the special subsidy for employment in development areas, besides receiving double the investment grant. It is therefore tempted to put the new extension on its car park.
The trouble is that to do so would be grossly uneconomic. It would be far more expensive to build a completely new building than to add a bay or two to an existing factory. Heating and sanitation would be far more expensive. Much more important, it would upset the whole work flow. This is not an isolated case. The same thing is happening up the road with a firm called Chance Pilkington. So we are driving people to act uneconomically, and pouring large sums of money into their pockets to do so, without in any way affecting the employment prospects, because a distance of only about 20 yards is involved.
I suggest that we are doing some rather foolish things and that the only way to create a really viable economy for Wales is to work much more on the growth point theme which was put forward by the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse).
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan (Cardigan)
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us with complete candour where, after the selec- 696 tion of the favoured growth points, he will designate areas in Wales which will not receive any assistance? Will he be frank with the House on that point?
§ Mr. Birch
I am not laying down how many growth points there should be, or where they should be, but this margarine business will not do much good. It is no good trying to grow strawberries on top of Snowdon, but you could get a large grant for doing so now. You must try to develop in an area where it is possible. That was the theme put forward by the hon. Member for Pontypool in the last debate, and no doubt he will put it forward in this one.
Difficulties will arise if we concentrate, but this is inevitable in the process of economic change. In the Middle Ages iron was principally smelted in Sussex. It was smelted there because the oak forests were used in the process. But when new processes for smelting iron were invented, people did not say, "We must keep our iron industry in Sussex." We should never have got anywhere if they had. We have to reckon on a certain amount of movement. It is no good thinking that everything can stay in the same position.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
The right hon. Gentleman has been talking about growth points. Will he consider the economic development of this country in the last ten years? All the growth points have been in the Midlands and the South-East.
§ Mr. Birch
I do not think that that is true, but what is true is that if industry is to prosper and be competitive—which it must be in Wales if we are to get anywhere—it must be sited in places where it is economic to produce. If we do not do that we shall continue to decay.
I want to say something about tourism. One advantage of devaluation is that it makes it more expensive for people to take their holidays abroad and cheaper for foreigners to come to Wales and the rest of Britain. But if we are to benefit from this situation we must be less barbarous to the tourist industry. The ex-Chancellor did everything he could to do down the service industries. It was not only barbarous but economically disastrous. He put on S.E.T. and took away investment allowances—one thing after another. He charged Purchase Tax on the tools of trade, such as knives, forks and plates.
697 When I took a short holiday in Eire, I was very impressed by the Irish Tourist Board, which was extraordinarily efficient. They met me at the airport on arrival and asked what I was going to do, and they met me when I went back and asked what complaints I had. I agree that it is more difficult if one does not come in by air.
I was impressed by another thing. One goes to a hotel with a not very engaging name in a small town, expecting to see threadbare carpets, dirty walls and out-of date plumbing, but one finds everything shiny with paint, brand new carpets, and good plumbing. This is possible because instead of penalising its tourist industry Eire helps it. It provides grants for improvements.
I very much hope that this question will be re-examined. The hon. Member implied we could have industrial development on a mountain. We cannot, but we can help tourist development, which can bring in a tremendous amount of money. If we were more sensible and rational about this, we would reap an enormously rich harvest. After devaluation, the potential is there to be reaped.
I now turn to nationalism and the centralisation of our affairs. It is not perhaps surprising that, after a Labour Government have been in power for some time, nationalist sentiment always rises rapidly. It did the last time thay were in. One example is the steel industry. The Summers Steel Works in the constituency of the Minister of State was the best run steel company in the country, because those running it lived on the spot all the time. Now it takes its orders from London via Scotland, and that is dotty financially.
I imagine that hon. Gentlemen will get around to what is going to happen, because every indication is that the steel industry not only will not be able to pay the interest which it owes or much of its capital expenditure, but may also make a considerable loss, which could easily more than a couple of hundred million pounds in the current year, which is more than all the economies being brought in after devaluation. Therefore, I hope that these companies will not be mashed up. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite will be on their knees very 698 soon begging someone to buy them. For heaven's sake, let us not nationalise the docks. This would be the most awful buffoonery.
I have tried to make positive suggestions on agriculture, tourism and industrial development, and added one word on nationalisation. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his speech. I know that his heart is in Wales and that he will do his best. We will wait, not with utter confidence, but at any rate with hope for the result.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
I listened to the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) with interest, but regretted that he is no nearer the conception of planning now than he was 13 or 14 years ago. He spoke of the spreading of margarine. Unfortunately, when his Administration ended, what we had was a little margarine on pinpoints, which did not mean a thing.
Whatever may be the objection to the Government White Paper, Wales: the Way Ahead, we can claim that it sets out to apply Government policies to Wales. Whatever the shortcomings of this document, it is the best that we have had hitherto. Perhaps the results so far have not been satisfactory in some parts of Wales, but at the same time the White Paper shows the factors involved—the geographical factors and trends and the manpower resources and counter trends which should be adopted.
Some hon. Members might object that the White Paper does not regard Wales as an economic unit. I believe that Wales is a national entity, and that the community life within the boundaries of Wales has its own cultural features which are peculiar to it. I believe that the Welsh nation—the people living within the territory which we call Wales—should be able to help to preserve its national life. When all that is examined, it boils down to the fundamental economic principle of finding employment for the inhabitants. People live where they can earn a living, and when people leave Wales to find employment they are lost to Wales. This we cannot afford. But that is a very different proposition form saying that Wales is an economic unit, because we have to accept the fact of geography.
699 The White Paper meets that factor squarely. The Welsh valleys, the Dee, the Severn and the Wye, for example, all lead towards England. The South Wales coastal plain, with the good road construction mentioned in the White Paper, forms a distinct link with the Midlands, and I can see the day coming when Car- diff may be the exporting port for the products of the Midlands—[An HON. MEM- BER: "Or Newport."]—or Newport, and the Severn Bridge has linked South Wales with the Bristol conurbation.
In North Wales, if the Dee Estuary plan matures, as my right hon. Friend said, the North Wales Coast will be in close and direct contact with the Mersey- side conurbation. We cannot afford to neglect or ignore these geographical factors. In addition to that, geographically Wales is divided into different economic regions. Each region has its industrial background, its history and resources and its own peculiar problems. There is thus great validity in the approach of the White Paper in dividing Wales into five distinct regions and suggesting means of solving the problems there.
Consequently, whatever the White Paper's shortcomings, geographically the approach is sound. Developments of the road system into and within South Wales, the examination of the Dee Estuary plan in North Wales and the dividing of Wales into five regions will prove, in the long term at least, to be the right approach. But planning also involves assessment of industrial and economic trends and estimates of decline in manpower in certain industries. We have seen a decline in manpower in steel, coal mining, slate quarrying and farming. In coal mining, the decline has taken a serious turn for the worse, which has complicated the present situation.
Other hon. Members will make concrete and practical suggestions, no doubt, but, in view of the public criticisms of the White Paper, the first of its kind, I was interested to read what others have had to say about planning in Wales. Thus, Professor Nevin in "The structure of the Welsh economy" said:Economic policy must always try to grope Its way through the uncertainties of the future so as to anticipate events.Whatever may be the criticism of this White Paper, "The Way Ahead", cer- 700 tainly it offers something far more practical than merely groping into the future. "The Way Ahead" is the way in which Government policies will be applied in Wales. Let us never forget that the Government have their policies in development areas, despite the present economic difficulties.
Despite the present economic difficulties, and whatever may have been the economic difficulties of the last three years—because of the legacy which we inherited—we have not neglected our schemes for the development areas. Government policy in this matter, including incentives to industrialists, the provision of premises, special building grants, the employment premium and so on, has gone ahead.
Other hon. Members will, I am sure, refer to the difficulties of the South Wales industrial area. I will not, therefore, discuss the problems involved in that area but will concentrate on other areas. Consider, for example, the decline of employment in farming. In this industry there has been a constant and substantial decline for many years. However, farming is more prosperous today than it was, and this is due to mechanisation and modernisation.
The answer to this and other employment problems is to establish small factories producing goods which involve very low transport costs. Such factories could be established in villages in rural areas within reach of a number of other small communities. Small successful factories in these areas would soon attract other factories and, in this way, small growth points would be established in our rural areas.
I have often thought that public concerns could be introduced into some of these areas. Consider, for example, the market that is provided by the Government at all levels; central Government, local government, education authorities and so on. The constant and consistent demand for paper, blotting paper, pencils, pens, small furniture, and a score of other items presents an extensive market which could be supplied by the introduction of public concerns in these areas.
I recall drawing up my school requisition on one occasion. A little leaflet came to hand advertising the products of a Grenfell factory, in South Wales. 701 I required blackboards and immediately put in an order. Imagine what would have been the result had hundreds of other schools in Wales placed similar orders. I am sure that there is a wide market for goods of this kind which could be supplied by Government factories, public concerns, set up in the rural areas. I would ask my right hon. Friend to look into this possibility.
Then we come to the slate industry, now concentrated only at three places, Blaenau Ffestiniog, in Merioneth, and Bethesda and Llanberis, in Caernarvon-shire. In these districts we have industrial communities with people familiar with industrial life and who would welcome the introduction of new industries. I am sorry to say that certain people in certain areas in Wales are not keen on new industries coming in. However, substantial factories have been introduced into these areas, including manufacturing motor vehicle components, washing machines, electric meters and typewriters. The point to remember is that low transport costs is a very important factor.
For iv any years I have drawn attention to the problem of making the fullest possible contact with, and use of, the School of Engineering Science at the University College of Wales, Bangor. This College undertakes to solve problems submitted to it by heavy industries and is known throughout Europe. Prototypes are produced there, but unfortunately, when it comes to manufacturing the final products, they are manufactured elsewhere. The time has arrived to manufacture these goods as near as possible to the University centre itself. That would not only encourage people in the area but would help to prevent the brain drain.
I now come to my part of Wales, namely, North-East Wales. With the exception of Point of Ayr Colliery, all the collieries in this part of Wales are within 2½ miles of Wrexham. The future of coal mines in the Wrexham area is causing anxiety. These are quite large collieries, each employing between 1,000 and 1,500 men. The colliery at Llay was closed 18 months ago. The colliery at Hafod was due to close a week last Saturday, but was reprieved. When a colliery is closed, the whole community is affected and that is the great social problem involved.
702 Hitherto, the Coal Board has been able to absorb the miners rendered redundant at Llay Main into other collieries, but if a further colliery closes the absorbing of miners will become impossible in North Wales. There may be jobs for these men in the Midlands, but I am not prepared to see the miners of the Wrexham area being uprooted from their communities.
If a colliery which is threatened with closure is to close, alternative employment should be made available, including employment for men in the older age groups—miners who have devoted their lives to the industry. I am informed—I am not speaking generally, but on behalf of my area—that there are industries prepared to take a proportion of the upper age group of miners if they are rendered redundant by pit closures, if allowed to establish in the area. That is the immediate concern of my constituents.
Having said that, I must say something which illustrates "Wales: The Way Ahead" as it has been applied in my part of the Principality. This story has been told before, but I do not apologise for repeating it. For 13 years under former Administrations no new industry was allowed to come to Wrexham. About 1961 the area was descheduled and an industry which was anxious to come to the Wrexham area was refused permission to do so. Then the industrial estate, which was established by the Board of Trade in 1947, was to be sold.
That was the position up to October 1964. Then there was a change of Government and a change of policy. Wrexham was rescheduled. The announced policy of the former Administration towards the industrial estate at Wrexham had created great difficulties when an important firm sought admission to the estate. Thanks to Government policy, those difficulties were overcome and, as a result, the firm of Firestone was allowed to build its factory on the industrial estate. That could not have happened had another Administration been in power. At present it is the biggest factory of its kind in the world. It was opened a week yesterday and is now in production.
This factory will help to solve the unemployment problem of the area. I do not say that it will solve it completely, 703 but it will make a great contribution towards its solution. It will also offer opportunities to the rising generation of youth. It will also increase exports and reduce imports, and to that extent contribute to the solution of our balance of payments problem. But, I repeat, had we had another Administration, that would not have happened.
Due, again, to Government policy, we also have a factory being constructed by Multicables. At Chirk, south of Wrexham, the firm of Cadbury is building a basic factory from which to supply raw materials to their other factories. That will in due course employ 500 people and help to solve the employment problem in the constituency of the hon. Member for Denby (Mr. Geraint Morgan)—because in our time we have seen industries disappearing from the Ceiriog and Dee Valleys. In addition, there are other minor projects. We therefore have in our district an example of diversification of industry—diversification in the nature of industry, and diversification in size—something again that would never have come about under the policies of the previous Conservative Administration.
We have a coal mining problem—and I want to continue to press the application of Government policy until that problem is solved. Yet I do not ask the Welsh Office to clutter the area with industries. All we want is ample industry. Once that is achieved, a new chapter will open. Wrexham will become a bridge over which other industries will be able to go into the Dee Valley and into the heart of North Wales. By following the policy outlined in the White Paper, we shall see the development of places in the heart of North Wales such as Corwen, Bala and Llangollen.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
The Government have now been responsible for the affairs of Wales for about three years and one month, about 37 months or about 1,123 days. It is fair to say that during most of that time the Ministers at the Welsh Office have been favoured by notable degree of moderation shown to them by members of Her Majesty's Official Opposition—
§ Mr. Gower
Criticisms have been made, but they have not been fractious. Some proposals have been resisted and some Measures have been opposed, but generally speaking the Opposition has been reasonable and the criticisms constructive. We have made allowance for the circumstances in which the Government's Welsh policies have had to be conducted, and it is also true to say that we have taken account of the fact that the Secretary of State and his colleagues at the Welsh Office have been in charge of a relatively new Department. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, however, must now recognise that some problems of the Principality at this time are of such a nature as to demand more stringent examination and, in some cases, sharper criticism. Ministers owe it to Wales to look anew at some of our problems and be willing to reassess them in the light of experience.
Some economic and financial measures affecting the whole United Kingdom have borne very harshly on Wales. Tax innovations, such as the Selective Employment Tax, whatever their merits or demerits as innovations, have been seen to have little or no relevance in much of the geographical area of the Principality. For much of the time, the Ministers at the Welsh Office have had most unenviable tasks. For example, some of the advance factories which the Secretary of State has quite rightly authorised have been extremely hard to let because of the financial climate of the United Kingdom as a whole.
The Secretary of State devoted a good deal of attention to roads. Roads are the very arteries of our industrial and economic life. Paragraph 42 of Cmnd. 3334 "Wales: the Way Ahead" states:Good roads are one of the keys to the prosperity of Wales.I do not like that paragraph, and my reason for not liking it is that it is not nearly strong enough. It should say that good roads are one of the chief and most vital of all the keys to the future prosperity of Wales. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) says that the paragraph should be even stronger.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
If the hon. Member will forgive my intervention, I would say that good roads are 705 "the" key to the future prosperity of Wales.
§ Mr. Gower
I am glad to go with the hon. and learned Member in that opinion. I have always taken the view that in former years we rightly gave priority to road communications between Wales and the adjoining and adjacent parts of England. For that reason, the Severn Bridge, the motorway from the Midlands to Ross, the Ross Spur and other schemes came into being. Now we have reached the stage where high priority should be given to internal road communications in Wales.
Is that being done? Is the Secretary of State satisfied with the plans that are already approved and those that are complicated? I fear that Wales: the Way Ahead is much too complacent about this subject. Answers to various Parliamentary Questions have indicated not only the small mileage of motorway already created in Wales but also the pathetically small mileage planned for the next decade—the next decade, not the next two or three years.
§ Mr. Arthur Probert (Aberdare)
Will the hon. Member compare the programme in "Wales: the Way Ahead" with what his Government did in their last few years of office?
§ Mr. Gower
I have already mentioned that we gave high priority to the main arteries leading from England to Wales such as the great motorway from Birmingham into Wales and the Severn crossing—schemes that cost far more than all the Secretary of State's schemes put together. We now see the pathetically small mileage of motorways promised for the next decade. In a few years, Wales seems certain to be revealed as the poor relation of the rest of the United Kingdom, at any rate as regards motorways.
Is the Secretary of State also satisfied that we shall have better trunk road communications to meet industrial needs? Paragraph 165 of Cmnd. 3334 refers, for example, to an engineering firm taking an advance factory at Blaenau Ffestiniog and requiring it to be enlarged considerably. Are Ministers satisfied that the present road communications to Blaenau Ffestiniog are good enough, not merely to ensure the engineering factory becoming established there, but for it to remain as 706 a viable and prosperous industry? That is the question we must keep in mind.
The same document refers to new industrial undertakings in Pembrokeshire and in Anglesey. Are Ministers content with the roads by which these factories are to be serviced and supplied and along which their products will have to be conveyed? The right hon. Gentleman said that Anglesey is not far away, but both Pembrokeshire and Anglesey can properly be described as being "at the end of the line". It is important that their inhabitants should not suffer from being at some considerable distance from their domestic markets. The access communications, I respectfully submit, need a good deal of improvement.
Take another example, which affects the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan). How can industrial development at Aberystwyth, or other parts of the County of Cardigan, be serviced and sustained unless there is a real improvement in many parts of the main road from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury?
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
Is the hon. Member aware that he is castigating the Tory Administration? If they had done their job the roads would be there.
§ Mr. Gower
The right hon. Gentleman may go on saying that for the next two or three years, but this Government are in their fourth year. It is time they thought about the future rather than the past. I put to the right hon. Gentleman, without castigating anyone, that he should be thinking about the future needs of Wales. He will not get sustained development in Cardigan or Aberystwyth until there is a considerable improvement in the road from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury. We have pressed for this for a considerable time, but little has been done to expedite its completion. We are not asking for a motorway; we want a good, reasonable road which would enable industrial products to be taken to and from Aberystwyth and the factories to be supplied.
We shall not derive anything like the full benefit from the various improvements in East to West communications in South Wales until Cardiff is effectively by-passed. I confess that I was encouraged by what the right hon. Gentleman 707 said about this problem this afternoon. It seemed a little more hopeful than what is said in the White Paper. We read in paragraph 53:a new road from the existing end of the M4 Motorway to the Bridgend area, providing an outer by-pass to Cardiff.That is included in the section described as "further ahead", but how much further ahead is it? Can we afford to wait even a few years? This sort of problem has been created by the success of earlier road schemes. The very creation of the Severn crossing has accentuated the need for this kind of scheme to by-pass Cardiff. This is a matter of the utmost urgency.
Unless something is done, road traffic in east South Wales will be clogged in and around the city of Cardiff. Regarding some of the road problems of this area, Cardiff and its surroundings, I should like the Secretary of State to look at the city of Genoa, in Italy, and see what has been done there. It makes all our efforts look very amateur. As to the road needs of the Principality as a whole, I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman is doing and attempting to do, but our road needs call for a complete reappraisal by the Government. Present plans are far too piecemeal and inadequate.
The Command Paper, Wales: the Way Ahead is also remarkably optimistic about the future of the South Wales ports. Those who have been closely acquainted with our ports and their difficulties in recent years will welcome this optimism, but I hope that it is soundly based. It would be folly for hon. Members on either side of the House to close their eyes to the difficulties under which all the South Wales ports have to work. Nor is the job of building up general cargo traffic as easy as might be surmised from a reading of paragraph 66 of the Report. The increased freedom enjoyed by the British Transport Docks Board to quote charges is certainly an improvement on the position some years ago when the South Wales ports were handicapped by scheduled charges considerably higher in most cases than the charges in other United Kingdom ports. But our South Wales ports are still at a great disadvantage in regard to the customary apportionment of charges between 708 shippers and traders at various British docks. I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Minister who is to reply to the debate that the Secretary of State will raise this problem again with the Minister of Transport.
For some years the ship-repairing industry in South Wales has been sustained at Newport—
§ Mr. E. Rowlands
Before the hon. Member leaves the question of the ports, will he agree that he and his party are shedding crocodile tears about them whereas in 1956 they were prepared to "dish" the lot in favour of the Bristol Portbury scheme? Does he dissociate himself from that?
§ Mr. Gower
I did not support the Portbury scheme, but that is quite irrelevant to the matters I am talking about. The main difficulties arise from the differential on charges. I assure the hon. Member that we can do what we like with the structure, but until those charges are remedied the problem will remain. I remember the present Home Secretary, whom we congratulate on his translation from the Exchequer, saying that a Labour Government in office together with nationalised ports could settle these problems easily. The South Wales ports have been nationalised for a long time, but these problems have not yet been settled. I hope that the Secretary of State will intervene with the Minister of Transport about this.
For some years the ship-repairing industry has been sustained in Newport, Cardiff, Barry and Swansea only with considerable difficulty. It is sad to report today that, in the opinion of many closely connected with that industry, it is threatened with virtual extinction owing to a strike which has continued for many months. Many of the men are out of work through no fault of their own. Both the employers and many of the members of the largest trade union affected, indeed, I believe more than one of the trade unions affected, are in favour of an independent inquiry into the cause of this dispute.
I have asked the Minister of Labour to institute such an inquiry. Not many months ago the present Home Secretary, formerly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), set a 709 deadline and threatened that if there were no solution within a certain time he would ask the Minister of Labour for an independent inquiry. There seems to be no one against this in principle, and I hope that something will be done. So far the Minister of Labour has treated the matter like a hot potato. It may be a hot potato, but the danger to the ship-repairing industry in South Wales is now, o great and the continuation of the strike so disastrous that it is the manifest duty of the Minister of Labour to institute an independent inquiry immediately. I call upon the Secretary of State to bring this serious problem once again to the attention of his colleague in the Cabinet.
I also ask the Secretary of State once again for some definite information about the proposed second iron-ore terrninal at Llanwern. Is this to be created at Uskmouth, or has a new decision been taken? I have always favoured a single ore terminal in the splendid natural harbour of Milford Haven. Much of the advice I have recently received from persons holding high positions in the steel industry in Britain and in other countries has only served to confirm me in my preference for Milford Haven.
Nearly all of them take the view that within 10 years or so the leading steel manufacturing countries will be importing iron-ore in ships too large for the terminal at Port Talbot and too large for the sort of terminal contemplated at Uskmouth. Of all the ports and terminals in South Wales only Milford Haven, I am persuaded, could accommodate such ships. I trust that before the end of the debate we shall be given the present opinion of Ministers about these matters, which are of tremendous importance.
I want to pay a tribute to the chief docks manager in South Wales and to the docks managers and their staffs, because they have done a wonderful job in adverse circumstances. They have played a notable part in trying to build up the general cargo, together with the local authorities and local commercial interests.
I crave the indulgence of the House while I say something about civil aviation. Wales has continued to lag behind most parts of the United Kingdom in civil 710 aviation facilities. Had it not been for the magnicent work of Cambrian Airways Ltd., under the chairmanship of men like Kenneth Davies, and then John Morgan and more latterly Jack Davies, the position would have been even worse. I am not at all happy about the acquisition of Cambrian Airways Ltd. by B.E.A. After all, Cambrian Airways was essentially a Welsh company whose main raison d'etre was Welsh civil aviation.
On the other hand, the importance of civil aviation in Wales has never occupied a very high position in the counsels of B.E.A. Was the Secretary of State consulted before this take-over? Was it really necessary? Why was no effort made to appeal to the Welsh people to provide more capital to retain Cambrian Airways Ltd., as an autonomous Welsh airway service? Had such an appeal been made, there might well have been an excellent response. I think that it was a tragedy that this was not done. I believe that substantial funds would have been forthcoming even from individual investors. Cambrian Airways had done, and was doing in difficult circumstances, a magnicent job. Moreover, it was a standard bearer for Wales in civil aviation, which B.E.A. is most unlikely to be.
Now that B.E.A. has acquired control, my fears are that there may be a tendency for this large corporation to decide in the future to curtail less remunerative services, including many Welsh air services which Cambrian Airways has built up so laboriously and with so little official encouragement? Has the Secretary of State secured any assurance from B.E.A. that Welsh services will be protected and even extended?
There is another serious point which I must mention. The take-over of Cambrian Airways by B.E.A. came fairly soon after the decision of the Minister of Aviation not to re-elect Mr. Kenneth Davies as a director of B.E.A. Mr. Davies was, in the field of civil aviation, practically our only friend at court. In a sense, he represented Wales on the board of B.E.A. Now that he has ceased to be a director of B.E.A., no other Welshman has been elected in his place. Surely, now that we must rely on B.E.A. for the provision of most of our air services to and from Wales, it is vitally 711 important that Wales should be represented on the board of B.E.A.
Is the Minister fully convinced that the proposed extension of Rhoose Airport will provide a really adequate airport to meet the aviation age and its needs? I submit that the terminal buildings, the restaurant and other services at Rhoose are still quite unworthy of the premier Welsh airport. For this, I do not blame the present owners, Glamorgan County Council, because they assumed responsibility at Rhoose fairly recently. However, I hope that steps will soon be taken to provide much better and more impressive buildings. Will any financial assistance accrue to Glamorgan County Council if it undertakes such work? Is any attempt to be made to invite some co-operation from commercial interests?
Despite what hon. Members opposite have said, in 1964 the Government inherited a situation in the Principality which was far better than could have been foreseen at the end of the Second World War. There had been a notable rise in manufacturing industry. Already there was far less dependence on the old basic industries of coal, iron and steel, and agriculture. Even then, three years ago when the Government took office, it appeared certain that their major problems must arise from one of three things—the strength or weakness of the new industries under conditions of deflation, the gradual contraction of the coal industry, or the effects of modernisation in the steel industry and in agriculture. These were the bases for their problems.
I want to refer briefly to the first heading, the strength or weakness of the newer industries under deflationary conditions. Here I believe that there are grounds for hopefulness and for optimism. This is expressed in paragraph 147 of the White Paper:but the net result of changes between 1950 and 1966 is that employment in manufacturing has steadily increased, independently of periods of economic difficulty in Great Britain as a whole, from about 277,000 from nearly 231,000.Paragraph 148 contains this sentence:On the contrary, the majority"—of the new industries—have put down strong roots…712 I believe that this is generally accurate and hopeful. We have only to think of the steady development of the South Wales Switchgear Company Ltd. at Pontllanffraith, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch), of several companies at Treforest, and in my constituency of companies like B.P. Plastics, Distrene Ltd., and Midland Silicones Ltd.
I must utter a word of caution. Paragraphs 147 and 148 refer to the period of 1950 to 1966. For most of that period, from 1951 to 1964, during Conservative Administrations, the periods of comparative economic buoyancy and prosperity were fairly prolonged, while the periods to difficulty and deflation were comparatively short. But for the last three years we have had one continuous period of economic and financial stringency. I want to be fair. Ministers may claim that they have done their best to segregate parts of the Welsh economy from the effects of that stringency, but they would be the first to acknowledge the limits within which this can be done. An indefinite continuation of economic squeeze would obviously subject some of our newer industries to very severe pressures and strains. It is to be hoped that this does not happen.
The second problem to which I want to refer very briefly is the contraction of the coal industry. As this problem has recently been debated, I shall content myself with very few observations. How rapidly the position has changed may be seen from a cursory glance at paragraphs 126 to 132 of the White Paper. Although this is a recent publication, those paragraphs are already out of date and now seem complacent, overtaken by events in almost every case.
One thing appears certain. Britain and Wales cannot contract out of a tendency which is expressing itself in many other countries, too. Even people in blinkers must realise that this industry is likely to decline and contract and that the process may be fairly rapid. What we must ensure is that the contraction is a humane process. Every possible step should be taken and must be taken to minimise possible hardships. In this connection, the Government must surely raise their sights regarding the need for industrial training and retraining.
713 Paragraph 193 of the White Paper says this:Training of industrial labour is particularly important in Wales".This is true. We on this side now have as our official policy a greatly expanded programme of arrangements and facilities for industrial training. If these are provided, and if at the same time we can attract sufficient new industry, the running down of coal mining need not be a harsh process as some fear. If necessary, too, special social benefits for displaced coal miners should be carefully considered. I was greatly interested, a few days ago, by some remarks of the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) on some aspects of these problems.
At the end of the day, provided that the changes are made with care and humanity, I for one shall not be sorry to see many fewer men working in coal mining. While it is, possibly, true that a few persons like underground work, I deem this to be by far the most unpleasant of our industries.
I mentioned the third major problem, namely, the effects of modernisation on certain industries, including iron and steel and agriculture. This is a factor which affects a great deal of geographical Wales. Here, too, all our earlier calculations tended to underestimate the extent and speed of the changes. Dealing with steel, the Government say in paragraph 133 of the Paper:… the Government believe that, by taking the major part of the industry into public ownership, important new opportunities will be created for improving efficiency.If right hon. and hon. Members opposite believe that, they will believe anything. I have an uneasy feeling that some of the so-called new opportunities will exist chiefly in paper plans prepared by the Government. There is little evidence to support a belief of this kind in the history and experience of other State-owned industries in this country. The most dynamic economies in the world today, in Japan, West Germany and the United States, have founded most of their remarkable results on the achievements of the private sectors of their respective industries.
Whatever form of ownership may obtain, it is certain that the process of technical and technological change must entail a changed employment capacity in 714 iron and steel and in agriculture. This process is continuing, and it may even accelerate. It is in this context that we must estimate the virtue and adequacy of the arrival of newer industries and the expansion of others. It is against this background that we must consider the Government's policies for attracting new industries to the areas where they are needed and where they will be needed.
For our part, we still have serious doubts about the extent of the Welsh development areas. It is now so large that only relatively small parts of Wales are excluded. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said, we still prefer the concept of growth areas, and we are not satisfied that the existing machinery is adequate for steering firms to the parts of the development area where they are most needed. We acknowledge that there may be substantial inducements for firms to move to development areas, but it would be helpful if the Secretary of State could give us fuller information about the means employed to divert firms to the parts of the development area where they are most desperately needed.
The sheer size and extent of the present development area impose new difficulties on the so-called grey areas.
§ Mr. Gower
I am about to conclude. The sheer size of the development area creates new difficulties for the so-called grey areas, and people in these areas are less disposed to accept the present position. May I illustrate this from my own experience? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If, for example—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I intend no discourtesy, but I remind the hon. Gentleman that many hon. Members wish to speak.
§ Mr. Gower
Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I am bringing my remarks to a close. I did not understand that there was a time limit. I did not wish to speak at great length, but these are all matters pertinent to the debate.
In my own experience in Barry, in Cardiff or in Newport, I find that people appreciate the reason when firms are guided into the Rhondda or Llantrisant or, indeed, into Pembrokeshire, but they find it far more difficult to appreciate the 715 reason if firms are diverted, perhaps, to the fringes of the development area where conditions are not nearly so bad. I hope the the right hon. Gentleman will look into this.
As Professor Edward Nevin pointed out, "Wales: The Way Ahead" is not really an economic plan. I do not complain about that. What I complain about is that right hon. and hon. Members opposite tend to call it an economic plan. As the Secretary of State says in his foreword, itlooks as far ahead as practicable but it does not claim to predict the future".That is wise. In the world of today, in which we are so dependent on exports and on the tastes and requirements of other countries, we cannot look too far ahead. But Ministers must recognise that in Wales today unemployment is higher in many parts than at any time since before the second World War.
In my own constituency, which I have had the honour to represent for several years, for the first time in my experience I now have many constituents coming to see me who are perfectly fit and yet unable to find employment. If this had happened under a post-war Conservative or non-Labour Government, we should have been denounced and described as heartless. We do not say that of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. We do not denounce them in that way, but we sincerely hope that they are not too complacent. They may talk about their plans. The problems facing them today are of the utmost gravity, and I hope that they regard them in that light.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I shall speak for only a few minutes. I am sure that the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his remarks. He has spoken in every debate which we have had on Welsh affairs and in the Grand Committee over the years. If I may say so with respect, he might have limited his speech tonight, having regard to the number of others wishing to speak. I have discarded the speech which I had hoped to make, because I want to give my hon. Friend ample opportunity, but there is one aspect of these matters on which I must touch.
716 First, I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his comprehensive and constructive speech and for the prospects which he has held out for Wales. I wish him well. I commend him for preparing the White Paper, "Wales: The Way Ahead." Whatever may be its defects, this is the first time, since the middle of the war when the Government set up a special committee, that an effort has been made to consider the problems of Wales and to look ahead. In this White Paper now presented to us, there is an analysis of trends and a good deal of information which we shall be able to turn again in the years ahead.
My purpose in intervening is to make a plea to my right hon. Friend. The strategy and plans outlined in the White Paper, supported by the old measures and the new measures announced by the President of the Board of Trade on 14th November, hold out the promise of building a new economy in Wales. What we need is time. The danger which confronts my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—I am glad to see my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power here—is that the pace of change will not be matched by employment prospects.
I want my right hon. Friend and the Government to succeed, and for this reason I put a suggestion to him. We know from experience that, on average, two years elapse from the time when an announcement is made that a new industry will be established anywhere in the country to the date of its completion and the time when it begins to operate. Much can be done to speed things up. One of the bottlenecks is the length of time taken to secure sites. I am glad that sites are now being secured in advance for many new factories, but I should like the process to be speeded up further still.
Second, I hope that my right hon. Friend will look at the problem which we have often discussed, the question whether the organisation in the Board of Trade responsible for building factories or establishing industries in Wales, as elsewhere, is adequate to its job. In my view, it needs to be strengthened greatly in numbers and in personnel. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will consult my right hon. Friend the Minister of 717 Power. Those of us who know South Wales had better be frank: the contemplated rundown of the coal industry in South Wales is at present more than we can match in alternative employment. I am glad that it has now been agreed that the question of pit closures will be considered by the economic planning councils as well as Ministers. My right hon. Friend's plans are admirable. The Government's inducements to industry are greater than any offered in any country in the world, but time is needed.
I shall not speak about history; the hon. Gentleman will not tempt me to do that. But this is not the first rundown of the coal industry that I have seen. I pay tribute to the National Coal Board and, above all, to my old union, of which I have been a member since my youth, the National Union of Mine-Workers. It had a terrifying problem in co-operating in the rundown of its industry. That is not an easy job for anyone, but the way it responded to the challenge and co-operated is in complete contrast to the experience of some of us in the 1920s and 1930s, when we saw the other kind of rundown. The hon. Gentleman talks about rundown, and perhaps on another occasion I shall talk about my experiences in the 1920s and 1930s. In those days it was not growth points, but death points that we had everywhere.
Our plans are admirable and our strategy is right. The resources we are placing behind the effort are also admirable, but if the pace of change defeats us it may jeopardise the success of our future plans. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power will consult the Welsh Economic Council and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the Welsh aspects of the problems of the rundown.
A rundown of 5,000 men each year to 1970, and something less after 1970, will create a problem which could overwhelm us. I want the problem to be dealt with and the pace of change controlled so that it is within our capacity to provide alternative industry. I am anxious that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues, the Welsh Office and our Government shall succeed, and I therefore hope that he will discuss the matter with every- 718 one concerned, so that the pace of change in South Wales is brought within our capacity to handle decently and humanely.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Gwynfor Evans (Carmarthen)
The document we are discussing was expected to be the long-awaited economic development plan, and any criticism must be taken as criticism of it as a plan. Before the White Paper was published in July that was the description given by a succession of Ministers in at least three Governments. If I criticise the White Paper rather harshly it is because it falls short of the standards expected of an economic development plan. The hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. J. Idwal Jones) described it as the best White Paper we have had. I fully agree that we have not had anything as good, but, after all, the competition is very weak. There have been White Papers year after year, and I remember the optimistic statements about thousands of jobs in the pipeline, and so on. In view of past experience and what is happening today, I fear that we may not see more of those jobs filled in the near future than we have seen in the past.
The White Paper has been on the stocks for a long time. The work was started by the last Conservative Government. The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-Eat (Sir K. Joseph) told the House in a progress report on the plan for Wales that it would be published early in 1965. But it was delayed for month after month and year after year, because, I was told by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas), the Government were determined to have the best plan possible for Wales.
There are three elements that one expects to find in any economic development plan. First, one expects a definition of what is desirable; second, a prediction of what is probable; and, third, a statement of the policy the Government intend to pursue to fuse the two as closely as possible. The White Paper does not seem to do any one of those three things.
It fails to establish acceptable aims for planning the national economy of Wales. I cannot believe that that is because the Government do not know what is necessary in Wales. I shared platforms almost a quarter of a century with one or two 719 people who are in the present Government, calling for a development plan for Wales. In those days we described it as a T.V.A. for Wales. We thought of planning in terms of the Tennessee Valley authority in the United States, which was a splendid example of planning. The planners regarded the huge area as a seamless web, and the effect of every action and decision on every other part of the life of the area was carefully considered before those actions were taken and the decisions made. When we compare what is in the White Paper with that, we see how far it falls short.
The Secretary of State did not refer to it today as a plan. I do not know whether the Government any longer considers it a plan, but that is what we were led to expect. We do not find in the document a clear vision of what the Government want to do in Wales, what it sees as the future for the Welsh nation and the Welsh economy. There is no cogent definition of its aims and no clear statement of objectives. There are many vague aspirations, but very few precise definitions or undertakings on industrial development.
We all agree that full employment is the basic question. It shakes the lingering faith that people in Wales may have had in the Government to read the treatment of the activity rate in Wales in the White Paper. It states categorically in paragraph 91 thatWales … is unlikely to have employee activity rates as high as those in England.It is profoundly shocking that that sort of statement is possible in such a document.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
There are reasons, and the hon. Gentleman should study them before making unwarranted criticisms of the Government. The activity rate in Wales is as it is because in Wales school children tend to leave school rather later than in the rest of Britain. There is also a larger and ever-increasing number of pensioners in Wales.
§ Mr. Evans
I agree that there are reasons why there is a difference between the activity rate in Wales and England, but it is not sufficient to explain the 720 Government's attitude to the basic problem. The Government should try to bring the two rates together as far as possible, but there is no statement of intention to try to do that in the White Paper, and that is what I criticise.
Earlier today, in a supplementary question, to which the Secretary of State has referred, I mentioned that, in Wales, there is a great deal of hidden unemployment. He asked where I got my figures. I got them from the "Brown Plan", from which I deduced the figure of 97,000 people in Wales who can really be put in the category of hidden unemployment.
Surely a White Paper of this kind should set a clearer objective. To say, as it does, that to maintain the 1966 activity rate would represent a substantial improvement is an insult to our intelligence. It is saying, in effect, that the more we mark time the more we advance. I cannot accept that sort of thing. Further, there is in the White Paper a complacency in acceptance of the fact that young people will continue to emigrate. It speaks of the movement into Wales of mostly older people being balanced by an outward movement of young workers. The Government regard that as something inevitable and bound to continue, apparently.
One of the main objectives of any plan should be to secure that young people in Wales have employment there and means should be set up by which that could be secured. No document purporting to be a plan can do less than that. If full employment of all our human resources is not stated as an aim, balanced development is not so stated either. I fear also that there is no attempt to state how West Wales, which covers one quarter of the country, will be developed.
There is reference to the advantages of West Wales. There is also the self-satisfied statement that the population of West Wales is expected to remain fairly constant. Yet in most of West Wales the population is falling. If the Government only expect it to remain fairly constant, one fears the worst and that it will continue to decline.
Nor is the development of the natural resources of Wales made an objective for the benefit of Wales. That is illustrated by the example of our water resources. 721 The White Paper fails to mention one of the cardinal points of Labour's 1964 programme—the establishment of a national water board for Wales. There seems little change of attitude towards our natural resources.
We have seen our immense mineral wealth in the past exploited not for the benefit of Wales or for the Welsh people and it has not resulted in a strong Welsh economy. That was because Wales was regarded—and this is no exaggeration—as a sort of colonial territory to be exploited. That has been happening in recent generations. It is a fact. There is the same sort of attitude now towards our water resources. Apparently they are there to be exploited for the benefit of others, but not for Wales.
If we turn to the second desiderata of the development plan in relation to what is probable, we find vagueness, waffle and lack of frankness. There is no serious attempt to predict employment opportunities and then, in language that is surely riot of a plan, we are told that the assessment is "based partly on impressions and assumptions and subject to an unknown margin of error." The right hon. Gentleman referred to that. It is something one should apologise for if one is publishing a so-called plan. But the right hon. Gentleman does not admit to any weaknesses in the document. He complains of criticisms but does not admit weaknesses. The basic weakness of the plan is that there is nothing sufficiently definite.
The Government arrive at the figure of employment opportunities for men by 1971 of 640,000 to 650,000. Comparing that figure with Table D at the back of the White Paper, we see that this is actually 36,000 to 46,000 less than 10 years ago. Is that what we are to look forward to? There is no growth there at all. The Government look forward apparently to continued decline and 1971 will be seven years after Labour came into power.
The shortfall of employment in 1971 is estimated at only 15,000. Earlier this afternoon, I tried to indicate that I thought that the figure of jobs needed in Wales would be considerably higher than the Government think and this is, after all, a basic matter. The reason one feels so strongly on this is that one knows 722 what has happened throughout this century, during which we have so far lost over 1 million people from Wales.
Successive Governments have made wild promises. But it is always pie in the sky and jam tomorrow, never jam today. I am desperately afraid that we are getting the same sort of thing now. The statements in the White Paper are far too optimistic. I am sure that it will prove to be the case that the number of jobs needed by 1971 will be far greater than the Government now believe.
In the Government's programme we hear all the time about advance factories and again today we have had the repetition about the millions of square feet being built. But what does all this mean in terms of employment? Only two of the advance factories built since 1964 are tenanted. The Government could not reveal to me the number of men employed in them.
§ Mr. William Edwards (Merioneth)
Instead of misleading the House as the hon. Gentleman often misleads Wales, perhaps he will point out that he is excluding factories in Mid-Wales. Three factories have been built and let in my constituency.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mrs. Eirene White)
I do not want to bandy figures and statistics with the hon. Gentleman, but he is perhaps using the word "tenancy" in one sense when in this case it should be used in another. Tenancy concerns people actually working in the factories at the moment. Other factories are let but are not yet in full production.
§ Mr. Evans
I accept that, but the answer I received was that 10 of these factories had been built and two tenanted. We do not know how many men are employed in those two.
If the Government set out the true magnitude of the task—and it is far greater than they are prepared to admit—they could not hope to get away with this pathetic attempt at a plan. They would have to produce a really effective development plan for the whole country but they have no intention of doing so.
723 The third of the desiderata is a clear statement of policy and objectives and a clear pattern of development for Wales and its regions. Certain decisions have been taken—the siting of the Royal Mint in Swansea, for example, the doubling in the size of Newtown and the development of Llantrisant—and these decisions are good, but what is there to help industrialists and local authorities in other parts of Wales to plan for the next 30 years? There is little of that.
We are told about a lot of unnamed industries in unnamed towns. We had a right to hope from what was to have been a development plan that a pattern of development would be set out for the development of, say, 12 or 15 centres throughout the country, phasing road and rail communications, which are a major factor in such development in a coordinated way.
I give an example from my area. The document refers vaguely to some time in the future, perhaps in the 1980s, when the dual carriageway east and west of Carmarthen will be started. That is little to look forward to in West Wales, which covers one quarter of the country. There is also the same lack of urgency about the road from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydvil, which is so vital to the development of five areas with a population of 500,000. This is quite intolerable. There is no sense of urgency about these things.
The railways are discussed, although the Government do not take the trouble to find the facts about the financial situation of the railways in Wales. I have said this in the House more than once and I have been challenged on it, but I challenge the Government to publish the facts to show the financial position of the railways of Wales over the last generation. We cannot hope to look forward to future development unless we know this kind of background. There is no talk of electrifying lines. Not a single mile of railway line in Wales has been electrified and apparently none is to be.
Finally, to tackle a task of this magnitude we should surely give guidance to the education authorities in Wales on the way in which to produce skilled people for the new kind of industries we hope will come and the kind of skills required. This should be co-ordinated with the industrial development, and the 724 retraining of men from other industries should be stepped up. I asked a Question about this only last week. Does the House know that only seven redundant miners have been retrained in Wales during the last 12 months? That sort of situation must not continue. Retraining must be stepped up.
However the White Paper is described, it cannot be described as a plan or even an outline plan, but it is of political importance for it has made it plain to the people of Wales how little can be expected from the Government here in London. "Put Britain first", said the Prime Minister in his devaluation broadcast. Welshmen are awakening to the fact that it is their duty to put their own nation first, to put Wales first.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Padley (Ogmore)
As so often happens on a Welsh day, we have started an hour late and then had an inordinately long speech from the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). I should, therefore, like to be brief and to speak specifically about the industrial problems of Mid-Glamorgan, which I represent along with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. John Morris) and my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Coleman).
The Mid-Glamorgan basis of coal and steel, along with the new industries which were steered to it largely by the Attlee post-war Government, illustrates the fundamental task which confronts economic planning in Wales. I begin by emphasising and endorsing what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths) about the mining industry. Fortunately, the Cgmore constituency is one of the most profitable parts of the Welsh coalfield and, indeed, of the British coalfield and, mercifully, my problem has been a shorttage of men rather than pit closures. However, having visited the constituency last weekend, I know that the events of the last few weeks have had a shattering effect upon confidence. It is important for confidence to be re-established.
Throughout the debate on the future of the coal industry there has been a tendency to regard coal as simply a commodity which is burned to produce electricity, or something like that, but via 725 the steel industry coal will play an important rôle in the industrial future of Britain and the future of Wales. Even on the pessimistic estimates of the White Paper on Fuel Policy, more than 20 million tons of coking coal will be required in the mid-'seventies and the expert Benson Committee on the steel industry estimated that in 1975 at least 13½ million tons of coking coal would be needed in the manufacture of steel alone. This means that if we are to have a thriving steel industry in Wales and in Britain it must have its basis in the coal industry, and that there must be confidence among the men who work in that industry.
Therefore, I welcome the White Paper, and unlike the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) I am glad that it is somewhat tentative in its figures and conclusions. I ask for boldness not in predicting the distant future, but in action to solve the problems which we know to exist now and which are likely to exist in the foreseeable future.
Mid-Glamorgan illustrates the decline of part of an old industry, coal mining, and the rise of a new and automated steel industry. Problems of employment arise from an industry in which £55 million of new capital investment is being made, £17 million on the enlargement of Port Talbot Harbour, and £38 million on the reorganisation of the Port Talbot steelworks, and yet, as the White Paper points out, between now and 1971 we can expect substantial redundancies.
My right hon. Friend has announced that Bridgend is to be one of the major growth points with an industrial estate in addition to that already there which will employ 7,000 to 10,000 additional persons. This is important not only because there will be pit closures in nearby valleys, but also to solve the problems arising from the re-organisation and rationalisation of the modern steel industry.
My right hon. Friend said that the advance factory in Bridgend had not only secured a tenant, but was being enlarged from about 25,000 sq. ft. to 110,000 sq. ft., with the probability that it would provide about 450 jobs. In Maesteg in my constituency, one advance factory has been completed and two others are on the way. Given the importance of the time factor, 726 which was emphasised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly, I put it to the Secretary of State that we must consider strengthening the Government's powers to steer new industries into Wales, Scotland, the North of England, and so on.
I do not for a moment under-rate the measures which the Government has already taken—such as investment grants, the regional employment premium and rent concessions, but the Government should exercise the buying power of the Government themselves and of the public corporations.
Let me give an example. A year ago last June, it was announced that the Hackbridge Holdings Group of companies would erect a new factory in Bridgend employing some 700 people, 600 of them men, to make transformers. Before that project had reached finality, Hackbridge Holdings was taken over by A.E.I. which, as everyone knows, has now been taken over by G.E.C. I am glad that in an Adjournment debate last week the Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs said that the Government had been in touch with G.E.C. which had promised to give due weight to the Government's regional policy when carrying out reorganisation and expansion.
Given the splendid record of the electrical firms on the Bridgend estate since the early 1950s, I am reasonably confident that G.E.C. will see that this is a point for expansion and not of contraction. But when we realise that the new G.E.C. combine relies to a considerable extent on orders from the Central Electricity Generating Board, from the regional boards and from the General Post Office, the time has come, given the urgency of regional development in Britain and the need to build up new industries in Wales, Scotland and the North of England, for the Government to use the massive buying power of the public corporations and of themselves to shape the future distribution of British industry.
The time has also come for us to say that where necessary publicly-owned industries should be introduced into these publicly owned factories. I have no doctrinaire bias in this matter. I do not mind whether it is a mixed company through the Industrial Expansion Agency 727 or whether it is the British Steel Corporation using its powers to venture out into new fields—and there are good sites in Bridgend, Kenfig and Pyle which could be used. The probability is that if the Steel Company of Wales had remained in private hands it would have ventured into new manufacturing activities in the vicinity of what is after all one of the largest steelworks in Europe.
I end on this note. Unless there is a renewal of growth in the economy as a whole we stand little chance of fulfilling the plans outlined by my right hon. Friend today. Unless we achieve a 4, 5, or 6 per cent. economic growth there will not be new ventures to be steered by financial inducement or by the additional powers which I would wish the Government to take. I therefore make a plea to the Government to realise, first, that their powers to steer industry to Wales must be strengthened and, second, that the problems of the regions—Wales, Scotland and the North of England—and with them the problems of Britain cannot be solved unless we break away from the policy of deflation and go forward to economic growth.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
I agree absolutely with the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Padley) that what is needed is a reflation of the economy as a whole if the peripheral areas—whether in Wales, Ireland, Scotland or, indeed, parts of England—are to have any hope of recovery.
The most astonishing thing which I have heard today is the claim by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) that the Conservatives deserve praise for being restrained in their criticism of the Government. We have the highest rate of unemployment in Wales since before the war. Surely there is no ground for restraint. The hon. Gentleman was absolutely right in his surmise that if the boot was on the other foot, and the Conservatives were sitting on the Government benches and the Labour Party were on the Opposition benches, the Labour Party would not use the kid glove treatment which apparently the Conservatives claim is the way in which they have treated the Labour Government.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
The hon. and learned Gentleman has no chance of 728 sitting on the Government benches for a considerable time. If he had listened to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) he would have realised that he had plenty of criticisms to make of the Government.
§ Mr. Hooson
It must be an uneasy conscience which affects the Opposition that they should treat the Government so gently.
I entirely agree with the view that the nature of the economic problems confronting Wales is greatly underestimated. The Secretary of State said that the figures given in the White Paper were working estimates of the size of the problem which would face Wales in 1970 and 1971. He fell into the old trap which almost every Government which I can remember fell into of greatly underestimating the nature of the problem. I agree with the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) in his criticism of the failure of this alleged plan to appreciate or grapple with the size of the problem. I disagree with him in the remedies which he put forward. What we need in Wales is much more capital investment, and we have no hope of getting it unless we can draw heavily on the British Exchequer.
Last week, the Vice-President of Plaid Cymru said in a statement:In terms of taxes alone the balance of payments is very much in favour of Wales. The Aberystwyth economists' independent research has shown that Wales paid an estimated surplus of £46 million of taxes to the London Treasury in the period 1948–62.The effect of this was clearly to suggest to the people of Wales that she pays far more than she receives from her union with the rest of the United Kingdom. I dispute that. I wrote to Professor Edward Nevin, who is head of the Department responsible for the production of these figures and who was personally responsible for this research. I asked him several questions, one of which was:Am I right in thinking that each part and each region of the United Kingdom has a surplus in its favour with regard to what it pays to the central Treasury on the basis of your figures, and that the surplus for England is proportionately much larger than for Wales?The reply was this:We have compared the surplus in Wales with the United Kingdom average, however, and this comparison certainly bears out your point. As we show in our Table 5"—729 he referred to the document which he sent me—of out Structure of the Welsh Economy, taking the three latest years 1960–62, the average surplus per head of population was -£2 in Wales and +£8 in the U.K. as a whole. You would get a similar comparison for every year during 1948–62 if you cared to work it out.That means, of course, that at these figures, which are simply of revenue and direct expenditure, Wales pays nearly £2 more per head of population than she derives. For the rest of the United Kingdom, the figure is £8 per head of the population. If we take Scotland, whose economy is considerably weaker than that of England, out of the United Kingdom figure, the South-East of England is probably bearing a tremendous part of this burden. It is right that it should do so, but what I think is needed is a recognition that it is so.
§ Mr. Gwynfor Evans
Would not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the situation which he is describing shows how badly Wales and Scotland have been developed by this kind of government? It is an indictment of the present system of government.
§ Mr. Hooson
I do not entirely agree.
In the figure as I put it to Professor Nevin, no capital expenditure was involved. The sum of £46 million quoted by the vice-president of the party of the hon. Member for Carmarthen is wrong. The right figure is £53 million according to Professor Nevin. To take only one example of capital expenditure, the Llanwern steelworks, built during that period cost well over £100 million. That was far more than the surplus paid in tax from the Welsh Exchequer. It is important to be intellectually honest about these matters and to discuss the future of our country on a basis of economic reality. I have the greatest respect for the hon. Member's attitude if he says that he is prepared to have an independent Wales whatever the economic consequences because other benefits will result. I disagree with his tactics of brushing away the economic problem s under the carpet.
Just before the Recess, I asked what was the amount per head in ratio to the population paid by the central Government to Wales in rate deficiency grant for local government, and what was the alternative figure for England. I was told 730 that, for Wales, the rate deficiency fund, as it is now known, is £10.14 per head of the population. For England, the figure is £3.89 per head.
I asked Professor Nevin to comment on this, and he told me that his own researches had disclosed a similar figure. His words were:The implication of this is clear enough. Local authorities as a whole in Wales are able to provide services at more or less national standards—and keep rates down to more or less national standards—only with the aid of unusually large subventions from the Exchequer. Left on their own they would be faced inevitably with either a drastic reduction of standards in education and basic services especially, or a drastic increase in rates—and I doubt if the latter is physically possible in the light of the rateable value basis on which they have to operate.That is why I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. What Wales needs in the future is a far greater subsidy from the Exchequer, and I think that we are entitled to it. If one goes back to the latter part of the last century and the turn of the present one, the Welsh economy probably was contributing far more to the United Kingdom's economy than it does today. I suspect that that is probably true of Scotland as well. However, there has been a change. If one takes the Republic of Ireland, with its own Independent Government, the rate of unemployment is 5.6 per cent., and it has stood at that figure for quite a long time. The rate of depopulation is far higher than anything that we have experienced in Wales.
That is not to say that the Government of the Republic are not making the most valiant efforts. It is simply a question of the economy. In Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and has a domestic Parliament, one finds the same endemic problem, with a rate of unemployment of over 6 per cent. One finds the same problem to a degree in Scotland and in Wales.
The truth is that in our national economy, the basis of which was steel and coal in the past, we have had a degeneration of these heavy industries, relatively speaking. The great problem is that modern industry depends so much on transport and on being in a suitable geographical vicinity. In the development of the consumer goods industry, South-East England is greatly favoured. But I see no reason why we in Wales 731 should apologise for saying that, as part of the United Kingdom, we are entitled to ask for very great capital investment in the peripheral areas which have provided so much economic strength in the past for the United Kingdom as a whole.
I think that the Government estimates are far too optimistic. The size of the problem is far greater than they realise. The key in the future is the development of communications. There is no doubt in my mind that the supreme reason why South-East England has developed at a much greater rate, and what might be termed the coffin area between London and Birmingham, has been the ease of communications. There are other reasons, of course. Old skills have become more important. Engineering skills have become more important, and there was a great reserve of such skills in the Midlands.
I am certain that the Government's plans for the development of communications in Wales as revealed in the White Paper are grossly inadequate to meet Wales's problems in the future. We could treble or quadruple the investment on roads in Wales, and still we should not match the problem. Far too much money is being spent in other directions. If this country faced reality, it could cut down on defence, not by £100 million, but by £500 milion at least.
We must realise that we want massive investment, not only in Wales, but in Northern Ireland, Scotland and some of the other regions of England, if we are even to approach the natural standard of living which is to be found in more prosperous parts of the country. That is the reason for having development areas, and having them fairly widely dispersed. Even if we establish growth points within those areas, the areas themselves must be widely spaced. But to encourage development and provide for the social and economic needs of communities in the less prosperous parts of the country, one has to plan, push money in, and have great investment. In particular, one has to overcome the great problem of the difficulty of communications.
The Welsh Department have tried to do a lot in Wales. The Secretary of State has Cabinet responsibility, and if 732 the country is doing badly economically it affects Wales as well as anywhere else. I accept that he has done a lot of special pleading in the Cabinet. Nevertheless. Government investment is hopelessly inadequate to tackle the job. The great mistake which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite make is to take Conservative achievement as their standard. Conservative Government was deplorable in Wales, and if the Labour Government does slightly better it is only slightly better than deplorable.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Ifor Davies)
The hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to the importance of being intellectually honest. Will he apply that to his own remarks and recognise that, given the economic resources at the command of the Government, more has been done for Wales than ever before in the sphere of communications? We have nearly £100 million of expenditure already in our preparation pool for roads. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give credit where credit is due?
§ Mr. Hooson
I will give limited credit to the hon. Gentleman, if he says that his Department is limited to so much money and has been able to get more spent on roads in Wales than before. He is entitled to limited credit, but he is sitting on the Treasury Bench as a representative of the Government responsible not only for Wales, but for the United Kingdom as a whole, who decide what allocations of money there should be. In that respect. I give him and his Government very little credit.
I come from an agricultural constituency, but, in such a debate, it is impossible to cover all subjects. However, the oldest established basic industry of Wales has been hit dreadfully by the foot-and-mouth epidemic. The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) adverted to it for a moment, and I am sure that the House will forgive me if I do the same and say how much tribulation the farming community has suffered. Many farmers and their families are living in social isolation, often with no animals, behind a cordon sanitaire. I ask the hon. Gentleman to convey to the Secretary of State the great need to press the claims of Welsh hill farmers, in particular, on the Minister of Agriculture. Many farmers have lost all their stock; 733 hill farmers in store areas have been unable to sell store cattle and lambs. They have had to buy fodder at high prices to support them. I hope that will be borne in mind when considering the financial implications of foot-and-mouth in the next Price Review, and that the Secretary of State will press their claims on his colleague.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Elysian Morgan (Cardigan)
I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this debate, although I regret that it is over 12 months since we last discussed Welsh affairs on the Floor of the House. On that occasion, the Secretary of State for Wales, concerning the plan we are discussing, said:The plan will set out the Government's proposals for dealing with Welsh problems and for making the best use of the great resources of Wales in the next decade and until the end of the century."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1966; Vol. 736, c. 52.]I was heartened by those words to expect a master plan for Wales which would contain a detailed survey of every aspect of our economic, cultural and social life as a nation. I expected that projections would be made, so far as modern techniques allowed, with regard to employment, investment, and industrial development or decline in each sector of our economy. In short, most of us expected analysis, anticipation and inspired and dynamic planning to meet the great challenges which confront us. It is for us today to judge this plan against the background of those words of the Secretary of State for Wales 12 months ago.
I am not one of those who think that Welsh patriotism demands that every act of a Labour Administration should be denigrated, irrespective of merit, or that constitutional progress for Wales can only be built after dragging a Labour Government down in ruins. It was Cato in the Roman Senate who always used to plead "Carthago delenda est". There are some in Wales who believe that once a Labour Government has been shattered to ruins all the benefits they would wish to see to come to Wales will then miraculously fall like the gentle rain from Heaven.
I dc not approach this White Paper in such a spirit of nihilism. I readily concede that it is a document which contains valuable studies in many fields. 734 I am certain that it stimulates thought and, as has been conceded by many hon. and right hon. Members, it is the first attempt by any Government to take a comprehensive view of the Welsh economy and its problems. But the question we must ask is: how far is this White Paper a blueprint for the future; how deep and incisive are the surveys that it has made?
In many cases I feel that there has been a heavy reliance upon rather nebulous generalities. Taking the section on coal, since the White Paper was published we have had a White Paper on the Government's fuel policy. That latter White Paper shows that the run down in the Welsh coal industry is likely to be very severe by 1970–71. We have also had the benefit, if that be the term, of the advice and prognostications of the chairman of the Coal Board in this connection. But in the White Paper, "Wales: The Way Ahead", there is not one line of the section dealing with the future of the coal industry in Wales which gives any suggestion of the perils with which that industry is confronted in the next four to five years. There is very little with regard to anticipatory planning beyond the announcement of the intention to build advance factories. These decisions are very often made when pits have actually closed or where their closure is imminent.
The last lines of the paragraph dealing with the future of the coal industry in Wales end in dulcet tones giving no suggestion at all of urgency or of real peril. I am sure that with an industry of such vital importance to the economy and to the society of Wales it would have been possible to have made these forecasts and projections where, indeed, they are urgently necessary.
What emerges most clearly from the White Paper is the fact that the structure of the Welsh economy is too weak and debilitated to offer the prospect of a prosperous future for the Welsh people. Old established industries are subjected to crushing conditions of change, and the ameliorated plans, substantial though they may be compared with the background of the past, are nevertheless not adequate enough to meet massive challenges.
It is true that greater efforts have been made to revive the Welsh economy in this period than have ever occurred before 735 in the lifetime of the Welsh nation—I pay this deserved tribute to the Welsh Office—but let us at the same time face the facts squarely. On the one hand, we have had the apparent success of the Welsh Office in the last three years in the attraction of new industry to Wales. It is proper for us, however, much sneering there might be at the Welsh Office, to remember that last year three times more square footage of new development was attracted to Wales than the annual average for the years 1960 to 1964, and that, even following the deflation of last year, the position for this year still shows double the annual average for those four years of Tory Administration.
Nevertheless, there is a long span of imponderables between an application for development and a new factory actually coming into full production. The remorseless facts of employment are that in March of this year 645,000 males in Wales were in full employment. In September, 1966, there were 657,000 men in employment. A year earlier, in September, 1965, the figure was 670,000. Paragraph 98 of the White Paper envisages work in 1970 for no more than 645,000 of our male population. Were it not for the very substantial efforts that have been made, the position would have been considerably worse. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, despite the natural growth in the population of Wales, despite the investment that will have taken place in the meantime, despite a vigorous I.D.C. policy, despite the benefits accruing materially in development areas, despite R.E.P. and advance factory programmes, and despite the whole amalgum of governmental assistance, by 1971, there will be 25,000 fewer Welshmen in employment in Wales than there were in 1965.
I am sure that all representatives of Welsh constituencies appreciate that this cannot be the way ahead. I do not suggest that in any way this is the way back to the misery of the inter-war years when Wales lost about 500,000 of her younger and more virile people. I quote this fact, not because it gives me the slightest satisfaction to do so, but because I believe that we must face these realities. We must engender in ourselves and in our Government the determination to tackle this challenge as if it were a military operation with a sense of 736 urgency and, indeed, if necessary, an attitude of ruthlessness. The problems in Wales are at a deeper and more fundamental level than the policies adapted to cover them.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
I accept that the hon. Member is making serious points, but I would not wish him to read more into the figures he has quoted for 1964 to 1965 than he has. As I tried to say in my opening speech, the fall would be due to the decline in the male population and also to the rise in school leaving age. These are two factors which will cause it. There is no other reason.
§ Mr. Morgan
I take that point, but I appreciate also that in the calculations which have been made in the White Paper no special consideration was given to the tremendous run-down in the coal industry of which we have had details since the White Paper was published. These will detract from the total male employed population. It is fair and proper to compare the fall in the male employed population in Wales with the increase in the employed population in England by 1971 of about 440,000, and I assume that about three-fifths of this figure will be represented by male employment. I reiterate that the Welsh Office has striven to bind the wounds of industrial Wales, but sticking plaster on the skin will not cure a condition which is endemic in the blood and bone. After all, we are dealing with fundamental structural problems.
Cynicism is a convenient cave into which to retreat, and I am sure that we must seek to be constructive. I would like to suggest three developments which could take place within the next 12 months, each of which could contribute materially to the welfare of Wales. The first is a matter which applies to all parts of Britain confronted with a structural change and slowness of growth. We need new weapons in our armoury to bring about equitable regional development. No doubt in times of economic boom many of the agencies of growth. from R.E.P. to advance factories, and I.D.C.s, will prove useful allurements in attracting industrialists to Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the development areas of England, but what these areas and these countries are really getting is the spillover from the plentitude of other 737 boom growth areas. Nevertheless, we must rot pretend that, useful though these inducements might be, and giving full credit to those who have laboured so assiduously to bring them about, in times of recession, at times when they are most needed, they are not effective in bringing to the areas of low industrial attractiveness the growth which is a condition of their continued existence as communities, and their prosperity in the future.
After all, despite all our efforts, basically we are relying on the whims of private industrial development to cure our industrial ills. The incentives can, and should, be added to in their variety. I am convinced that concessions for substantial Income Tax exemptions, let us say for the first two years of a new firm's enterprise, is a consideration to which we should give great thought. The central Government must be more willing to intervene directly in bringing growth to such areas. We have examples of developments of this nature in Italy and in France.
I would like to endorse the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Padley), with regard to Government-occupied factories. The Government are also a great employer and a substantial purchaser of products and services. Some months ago I was rather chastened at the reply which I received from the Treasury in answer to a Written Question. I found that of all the goods and services purchased by the Treasury, or through its agency, by all Ministries in all parts of Britain, only 2 per cent. was expended in Wales. I feel that there is here a strong case for reviewing the whole system and pattern of Government purchases.
Like my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State., I welcome the channelling of Government Departments to Wales in past years. Were it not for the existence of the Welsh Office, I am certain that such actions would not be possible, and I am sure that I voice the hopes of hon. Members on both sides of the House when I say that we trust that these developments are the earnest of much more to come.
I believe that there is an urgent need to extend the functions of the Welsh Office itself. After all, when problems of urgent moment confront Wales as a nation, and 738 threaten its future prosperity as a community, it is right and proper that those problems should be handled by people who have the greatest interest in them, and the greatest knowledge of them.
When the Welsh Office was created, I believed that it was intended that it should exercise control over a very much wider field than it does. The Labour Party's policy document issued for the 1964 General Election said on page 22:It is envisaged that in addition to his overall supervision of Welsh affairs the Secretary of State will have executive responsibility over a wide field including education, health, housing, local government, and agriculture.I am certain that the time has come for that pledge to be honoured.
Lastly, there is a need for all the plans, efforts, and policies dedicated to bringing development to Wales to be co-ordinated. By bringing new functions under the aegis of the Welsh Office, I have no doubt that this will be done in part, but I think there is a case for much greater co-ordination of effort. There is a strong, and I plead irrefutable, case for setting up a real industrial development corporation for Wales which would have authority to draw up a master comprehensive plan of industrial development for our country.
It should also have power to acquire, by voluntary agreement, shares in private industry whenever that is likely to bring about growth in areas where it is required. It should be able to acquire sites in anticipation of demand. I am glad that the Welsh Office is drawing up a register of available sites, but there is a need for some central, powerful, adequately financed body to acquire these sites, and to provide as soon as possible the services required for them. There are no doubt exceptions, but, generally, local authorities do not have the finance, the vision, or the vigour, to acquire sites which are necessary for industrial development in their areas.
A corporation such as that which I have in mind should have power to develop roads. We have heard a great deal today about the part which roads have played in the infrastructure of the Welsh economy. I heartedly endorse all that has been said. It is fair and proper to remember that this year the Government are spending on motorways in Wales 14 times what the Tories spent during their last complete year of office—1963.
739 I make a plea for roads which do not have a high traffic count, and which may not be attractive for development in the consideration of my right hon. Friend. We must look to the future. We must designate certain roads which can be strategic in channelling development to areas which have been starved of industrial growth for many decades.
My time is running out, and I feel that the purpose and significance of the measures which I have advocated can be summarised in a few words. Wales is a nation. Nationhood is not basically an economic condition, yet it is a phenomenon which can be strengthened or weakened, inspired or despaired, by economic development.
There is a consciousness of nationhood more prevalent in Wales now than at any other time in this century. The Welsh people have stood by Labour during the tribulations of the past and expect us to implement policies which have upon them the distinctive stamp of nationhood—policies which seek to restructure a vulnerable economy and which will reflect both the urgency of the situation and also the bold determination on the part of the Government to meet that challenge.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. W. G. Morgan (Denbigh)
I am grateful for the opportunity to make a short contribution to this important debate. I shall try to keep my remarks short, because I know that many hon. Members wish to speak. I cannot seriously regard the White Paper as a plan in itself. It came into being at a time when the National Plan was already in ruins. Despite that, it is a document that deserves to be treated with the greatest respect, because it contains important factual information and draws attention to problems that beset us in Wales, even if it does not give us much practical help for their solution.
It rightly claims that this is the first White Paper that has brought together all the issues affecting the economic cultural and social life in Wales. That is about as vast a subject as could ever be the subject of a day's debate in this House, and it is a pity that we are discussing it so long after its appearance. Since I propose to make only a brief intervention I must apologise in advance for 740 dealing only with issues that appear to me to be of special importance.
First, I want to refer to communications—a matter which has already been touched upon by other hon. Members. In view of the place which tourism has in our national economy, communications are of particular importance and I shall have some more to say about this subject later if I have time. Paragraph 42 of the White Paper says:Good roads are one of the keys to the future prosperity of Wales.In my opinion, as well as that of other Members, this does not put the point strongly enough, but as far as it goes it is a proposition with which no one would wish to disagree. I am glad that the Government have given responsibility for roads in Wales to the Secretary of State. It means that there can be no excuse on his part when criticisms are raised in the House.
It is most important that a statement should be made about the Government's long-term policy for coastal roads in North Wales. I make no apology for asking for this information about North Wales, because it is implicit in the White Paper that that is our main tourist area. I say that although I come from South Wales. The Government should also tell us what they are proposing to do about the internal Welsh road communications. They were, in my opinion, quite right to give the first priority to East-West communications, but the time has come for something to be said about a North-South Wales road.
Most important of all, the Government should tell us what they propose to do about the small local roads. We have discussed this question in the Welsh Grand Committee on several occasions and the point has been made that the small roads which formerly were not much used are now very much used in the tourist areas. A most useful Act was introduced under the last Administration which, unfortunately, they did not see fit to prolong—the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act—a Measure which had particular reference to Wales and was introduced mainly for the benefit of Wales. It resulted in the expenditure of about £1 million on Welsh roads, half the total expended on the improvement of the roads to which I have referred.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
The Government have handed out £3¼ million to highway authorities for the improvement of these roads this winter.
§ Mr. Morgan
That strengthens my point, which is that the Government should give attention to the reintroduction of the measure to which I have referred or to a similar one.
I cannot pass from communications without saying a word about railways. I want to make it clear that in criticising the Government, as I shall do, I am not expressing entire approval of what happened under the last Administration. Hon. Members opposite will remember that I expresed criticism then, and perhaps they will hold that in my favour. To put it mildly, I think that the Beeching Plan showed a considerable lack of imagination with regard to rural lines. However, despite the criticism raised by the then Opposition, little has been done to help by the present Government. I excuse them in respect of the Ruabon-Barmouth line. I suppose that there was a technical defence here, because it was not possible to re-open the question under the terms of the Road Traffic Act, despite the glowing promises made by a former Member for Merioneth in that respect.
But that excuse is not available with regard to the freight line to Denbigh—a matter which was discussed at some length in the Welsh Grand Committee. I feel sure that the Minister is sympathetic on this matter. I am sorry that he is not in a position to take any positive action about it. It seems very unwise, when developing an area like Denbigh, to cut off its rail freight communications. It is no answer to say, in an area with such congested roads, that the road services can take the place of the railways. I understand that a similiar thing is happening with regard to Newtown, which is also a growth point.
I now return to the question of the tourist industry. The importance of this and of the participation of North-West Wales in it is apparent from paragraph 141 of the White Paper—North-West Wales, for the purpose of the Report, consisting of practically the whole of North Wales. Interesting facts emerge, such as that from 10 to 12 per cent. of holidaymakers during this decade holidayed in Wales and that the total annual holiday spending in 742 Wales is about £50 million. Perhaps we could be furnished with some up-to-date figures in this context. We are also told that Wales entertains nearly 4 million visitors each year, and so on.
It is important to remember that tourism was discussed in an Adjournment debate towards the end of the last Parliament, about a fortnight before the last General Election. At that time we did not know what barbarity would be applied to the tourist industry in the very near future, in the shape of the Selective Employment Tax, and the effect of this tax, by inference, is admitted in the White Paper.
Speaking of North-West Wales it says that there is an unduly large proportion of service industry and refers to seasonal fluctuations in unemployment. It must be admitted that there is little in the way of ancillary industry. The figures are given in the White Paper. There are 78 per cent. employed in the service industries, only 7 per cent. in the extractive industries, and 15 per cent. in the manufacturing industries.
Paragraph 146 says:Much will depend on the success of efforts by the holiday industry to sell Wales to the overseas visitor. Progress will also depend on the willingness of local authorities and holiday interests in Wales to contribute to promotional activity. Some are alive to the value of increased tourism and generous with their help, but many who benefit from the work of the Wales Tourist Board are doing little to assist it. The Board are conducting a campaign to increase support for their activities and the Government very much hope that this will receive a sympathetic response.We shall be interested to know what the response has been. That is the most important paragraph in the Report
. I had not intended, until my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) referred to the matter, to mention local government boundaries, but this is a wide-ranging debate and what I say may encourage the Secretary of State. I am sure that he has given the most careful consideration to the many varying views expressed on this matter, particularly with regard to the formation of a large county in North Wales. Having tested public opinion in the best way that I can, I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend. I tend to favour the big county, even if only for the lack of something better.
743 In my constituency, at any rate, many people prefer this proposal to the final proposals of the Commission in 1963, with which hardly anyone in Wales agreed, since they involved, among other things, the complete tearing up of historical areas. The view has frequently been expressed to me that, unless we can have a full union of Flintshire and Denbighshire, the preference in Denbigh would be for the large North Wales county. It has certain advantages, anyway. It is easier to plan road building and this is important in view of what I said when I dealt with coastal communications, and as a county it would not be over-large compared with some existing local government areas.
No one so far has mentioned the cultural aspect of the White Paper. I welcome the Government's assurance that, as far as possible, in the schools in Wales, all who wish to learn the language will be given the opportunity to do so and that increasing attention will be given to the teaching of Welsh as a second language and to the adoption of modern language teaching techniques. In this connection, I would like to refer to Welsh firms. I have received a great deal of correspondence, as no doubt have other hon. Members for Welsh speaking areas, on this subject. We now have accepted, as a result of the Parry Report, and the Welsh Language Act which followed it, the principle of equal validity of the two languages and some consistency in the issue of these forms is important.
The Secretary of State is no doubt aware that some extreme and unreasonable claims are made in this respect, although it is equally true that some Government Departments are unduly unsympathetic. I single out here the Post Office and the Inland Revenue. I have said this before and I say it again. Unless serious attention is paid to achieving consistency here, it will make a mockery of the principle of equal validity.
I regard this debate as of great importance and would like to think that we have approached these problems on both sides constructively. I am glad to have made a small contribution to it.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Tudor Watkins (Brecon and Radnor)
I am glad to have heard the speech 744 of the hon. Member for Denbigh (Mr. Geraint Morgan), because I agree with him about translation, though from a different point of view. Last Saturday afternoon, after a miners' conference, I had tea with one of the young ladies—with my wife, of course—who was translating English into Welsh and vice versa. I pay tribute to those in the Welsh Office who are doing this excellent work without sufficient staff. The Welsh version of the Foreword to the White Paper is excellent and I could understand it if the Secretary of State had done it in Welsh and translated it into English afterwards.
I am inclined to praise this Foreword and the appraisal, the alpha and omega of the White Paper. Planning has always appealed to me, and, as the White Paper says, it is a continuing process and means different things to different people—as the debate has shown. I hope that the debate is not the last but the first step. Periodically perhaps, we should have progress reports, even if that means quarterly or six monthly bulletins, because of the tremendous changes taking place in Wales. We have the White Paper on Government action and "we have statistics, but I would like the changes in Wales appraised in a separate Government document.
We do not hear a great deal about the economic planning board. It must be working very hard, but I should like to know something more about them, as I have some criticisms. Could there not be an arrangement between the Ministries in Whitehall for consulting the Welsh Ministers more than in the past over any Welsh schemes not directly under the Secretary of State? This is particularly important with regard to the Ministries of Power and Labour and to the Board of Trade. When colliery closures are announced, the alternative means of employment are very far behind. The White Paper implies that, unless there are better planning proposals by these Departments, there may be difficulties in future.
A very important problem arising from colliery closures is the question of what is to happen to disabled people. Unfortunately, in my constituency, a number of my own relatives are disabled persons, redundant, unable to get work for perhaps two years, on unemployment benefit and now worse off. That kind of problem must be considered. Some industries in Wales and the development areas 745 could get advice from the Ministry of Technology on whether they could produce for export, and we could make it clear that some future programme should be available for continued employment instead of, as I find in the Ystradgynlais district, firms losing one week in six because there are insufficient orders.
For planning purposes, local authorities should be called together, either confidentially or otherwise—but certainly not in open council—and told months beforehand what will happen to their localities. I stress that, because young people in the areas which I have mentioned want to know what their future will be. I have been rather alarmed and today I was not very satisfied over this point. The Secretary of State and I are great personal friends, but I noted with some disquiet one sentence of his about using the mouth of the valley to get industrial expansion in that respect.
I did not like that, because there are disquieting signs of industrial estates being in areas in low unemployment and long travelling distances, getting one part of industrial activity. It would be much better if the industrial estate at Fforestfach were situated in the upper reaches of the Swansea Valley rather than at Fforestfach where there is no unemployment.
I thank the Government on behalf of the Ystradgynlais area for stopping the closure, at least temporarily, of the Cefn Coed Colliery near Neath, in which about 180 miners are employed and who live in my constituency. I also thank the Welsh Office for designating the area covered by the exchange as a special area under the Local Employment Act. It will make a tremendous difference to the district to have this designation.
Great concern must still be expressed because alternative industries are not coming in at a rate to catch up with the number of miners who may be expected to become redundant under the measures announced in the White Paper. I am grateful that two advance factories have been built in Ystradgynlais. They have been built before the scheduled time, which is quite something these days for any factory, let alone an advance factory.
The trouble is that there are no tenants for these factories. I gather that 15 industrialists were approached and that not one of them had the decency—I should 746 not say "decency"; perhaps courtesy is a better term—to come to Ystradgynlais to see whether or not they liked it. I still hope that they will come and see our part of the world and establish factories there. Even so, there is room in this area for two or three more advance factories and they could be tenanted in addition to our having some small industrial extension to the present buildings.
I hope that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues in Whitehall will press the Department of Economic Affairs and the Board of Trade to steer Government contracts into some advance factories in South Wales. If the Government will not steer contracts in this direction and will not or cannot induce industrialists to move to this and similar areas, only two alternatives remain open; either they must direct industry or take over the factories themselves and produce something good for the nation. Cannot the Ministry of Labour build a factory for disabled miners? What stops the Department from doing this, or at least from examining the possibility?
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths) knows, big lorries pass through Ystradgynlais Cross on their way to the sheet mills in the Midlands. They pass through every afternoon and evening and we are left wondering why the sheet cannot be used in factories in Ystradgynlais. Equally, I have been disappointed at the delay over the Port Talbot training project and that the progress that should have been made has not been made in the last two years. The time has come, because of the change in policy that has taken place, for a training centre to be established in the upper reaches of the Swansea Valley.
One of my colleagues is in the Welsh Office and another is tied up with that Department, as I used to be. Some people might say that I should still be there because then I would not have so much to say.
Despite what the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) said about Mid-Wales, I am glad to note the remarks in the White Paper about this area. The hon. Gentleman should read the speech which the Secretary of State made in the Welsh Grand Committee on 15th March last, in which he talked about the three-pronged attack being made in 747 Mid-Wales. I will not talk about all three, like a Baptist minister, but will concentrate on one of them; the fostering of a growth town. I hope that the Welsh Office will follow up this idea, particularly since it is now Government policy.
I am certain that at the meeting this afternoon of the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association, certain hard things were said about what is going on in Mid-Wales and that a statement about the future of Mid-Wales was sought. There are plenty of ideas about and I implore the Minister to do something about Rhyader. An article on this subject appeared in the Western Mail today. I do not usually quote from that newspaper because it never says nice things about me. However, on behalf of my constituents, I am obliged for its comments today about Rhyader. I would make the remark:Many a false step is taken by standing still".That is happening in Rhyader, which is awaiting a Government announcement about what is to happen to the area.
Without saying that there are harsh disagreements going on, it is felt that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing—that the roads division of the Welsh Office does not know what the Industrial Development Association is doing. From the general point of view of development in Mid-Wales, there should be a reappraisal of the larger growth towns and the planning officers of the Counties, officers of association should examine, with the Welsh Office, the next feature that should be tackled.
The subject of training boards and technical education has come in for a lot of play today. There is an obligation on employers in the small industries in Mid-Wales to do their bit, and this applies in South Wales. There must be technical education. Employers pay the levy and we must see results. I trust that the Minister will pay attention to this aspect in Mid-Wales, particularly in Brecon, because we have an excellent technical institute, although there is no provision for these people to undertake engineering and so on.
A lot is said about sites. I do not want to make a political speech and I 748 have tried my best not to do so. I say that because the problems of Ystradgynlais and of Mid-Wales generally are too serious to indulge in politics. I hope that the Government will ensure that if any local authority in Mid-Wales does not use the compulsory powers which are available to acquire land for sites, the matter will be referred to the Land Commission to ensure that those sites are procured for industry.
I have been silent for three years. What a welcome relief it has been to take part in today's debate.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Sir Eric Errington (Aldershot)
I rise with some degree of timidity. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite will not exclaim "Hear, hear" quite so loudly when they hear what I have to say. The matter I wish to raise concerns Anglesey, the part of Wales in which I have lived for 25 years.
Without wishing to delay the House unduly I am disturbed—and the object of my speaking today is to express a strong view that is felt by some of those concerned—about the Rio Tinto Zinc Company starting a large factory in an area of about 700 acres near the North-East coast of Anglesey. This would be a heavy industrial complex and the question of approval is now under consideration by the county council, which will, no doubt, consider it in greater detail before reaching a decision.
I wish to deal with the broad general principle of the matter. It should be accepted that good land should not be taken unless no other land is available for heavy industry. During this debate hon. Members who represent other parts of Wales have made it clear that there is plenty of disused and derelict land available. If so, there must be a number of sites, particularly in South Wales, which could be used for the industrial expansion about which I am speaking. Surely this could be done without interfering with either farming or residential areas—or, indeed, areas which are attractive from the point of view of tourism. The White Paper quite clearly states that hundreds of thousands of people come into North Wales from Lancashire and Yorkshire to enjoy their holidays.
749 I am as anxious as anyone that Wales should have fair industrial treatment. I understand that there are to be four smelter works—one in Scotland, one in Milford Haven, one elsewhere, and the fourth the Anglesey smelter. Careful consideration should be given to the general problem that arises in Anglesey over and above any question of detailed planning by an inspector. I am appalled to hear that each week between 50 and 60 tons of used carbon will be put into the sea off Anglesey. Sulphur dioxide is produced at an estimated rate of about 5,000 lb. per day. The work also includes very large amounts of fluorides, which are an essential part of the manufacture of cryolite, one of the materials by which alumina is made into aluminium.
The works will need a chimney more than 500 ft. in height, which at once produces difficulties in regard to the Valley airfield. There is something of which I have not heard before, a baghouse, which is used to enable the fluorides to be contained. If a baghouse breaks, the fluoride goes all over the factory and is difficult to contain.
As an I.D.C. has been granted, it would appear that the Government in their proposals are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In Holyhead, 270 men and 63 women are unemployed. In the whole of Anglesey there are unemployed 1,100 men, women, boys and girls, of whom 8 per cent. are over 55 and, therefore, have a limited opportunity of getting re-employment. This complex will employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people to start with, with a substantial rise in the numbers as time goes on. That seems to me not to justify the complete overturn of this part of Anglesey.
As I intervened while the Secretary of State was speaking, it is very desirable to establish smaller industries—that would be of value—but that by a combination of the Wylfa nuclear power station and the proposed use of these 700 acres we will be turning the area into an industrial complex that will change the entire character of the island. The Secretary of State knows this, and the matter will have to be considered in detail. Many people think as I do on this subject—and I assure the House that it is not to me a person al matter, but I have the oppor- 750 tunity of speaking on this subject and representing a considerable number of people, and the correspondence is substantial, as this bundle will show.
I hope that the Secretary of State will give consideration to some place for this industry that is not a holiday and residential area. There are many places, at any rate in the South, that are suffering from closed-down industries. If this complex has to come to this place, the most careful consideration should be given to the various chemical difficulties, as well as difficulties such as those connected with the provision of 600 to 700 houses for the extra labour that will have to come in order to start such a very large industrial establishment.
We have heard a lot during this debate about roads. Roads are of key importance. I have not heard yet that anyone has decided that there should be some sort of road improvement at Bangor. Bangor is the gate to Anglesey, and I am very disturbed to find that if one tries to get through Bangor these days, particularly, if I may say so, in the area near the railway station, one is in very grave difficulty from a traffic point of view. If we are to build a big industrial complex at the other side of Anglesey, a good deal will have to be done to the road through or a new by-pass round Bangor. I hope that some thought will be given to it.
This industrial project was first put before the local authority on 29th September last. The local authority ought to come to a decision in the middle of next month, but it ought not to hurry, though the pressure put on it by R.T.Z. is quite monumental. Grave consideration should be given to a project that is so very technically complicated and that will make a change that will last for generations.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Probert (Aberdare)
If ever there were a case for extension of time for a debate this debate on Welsh affairs illustrates it. I am in the difficulty that in chairing the Welsh Grand Committee this is the only occasion when I have the privilege of taking part in a debate on Welsh affairs.
None of us who listened to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State this afternoon can fail to realise the tremendous tasks which will face him in the 751 Welsh Office in the next few years. The excellent speech by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) illustrated that. On one thing I disagreed with the hon. and learned Member. That was when he referred to the size of the problem. As was shown by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths), it is not necessarily the size of the problem but the speed of change which we have to consider.
We are faced to some extent with a second Industrial Revolution with all the problems inherent in such an event. Anyone who has studied the effects of the first Industrial Revolution on the thousands of men, women and children of Wales realises that we face the present situation in an entirely different atmosphere. The policy of lassez faire with all its consequences for the weakest in the community is, I am glad to say, no longer generally accepted. The social consequences are now recognised nationally.
Last Tuesday we debated the Coal Industry Bill. That Bill is very welcome to miners and hon. Members who represent mining constituencies. It is a recognition of the nation's obligations to a sector of the community which might be hit hard by industrial change. The main fear of all of us is that changes take place so rapidly that the remedies might not be applied in time to prevent intense hardship, or, indeed, disillusionment.
The problems of Wales are no different from those in many parts of the United Kingdom. Rural depopulation is a problem which besets not only parts of the United Kingdom, including Wales, but many parts of the world. It is faced, not only in the United Kingdom and America, but also in Soviet Russia.
The rundown in the coal industry and the contraction in the steel industry affects South Wales more than other parts of the country because of the place which South Wales had in the Industrial Revolution. Thousands of men and women migrated there from the 1850s onwards. To the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans), I say it was not an Englishman who exploited all those innocent victims. It was the Davises, the Thomases, the Lewises, who later 752 attained places in this House. They were Welshmen and they exploited the thousands of people in the valleys of South Wales at that time. That is something which should be remembered.
We are now facing a new revolution, of automation. There is a change in the fuel economy. It is very fortunate that we have a Secretary of State for Wales and a Welsh Office responsible for the Welsh problems within the wider network of the general economic structure of the United Kingdom. The opening speech of my right hon. Friend today showed what is being done and what he hopes to get done to go along with this change and to make such changes as are beneficial for the people he represents.
One of the constitutional changes which should take place quickly and which could help would be for the Secretary of State to have a far more decisive voice in Board of Trade matters. This is no reflection on the Board of Trade in Wales, but the Secretary of State is responsible to the people of Wales and he should have the voice of authority. Who knows best where to site a factory or an advance factory? When there is criticism it is not levelled at the Board of Trade, but at the Secretary of State for Wales. He has to bear the responsibilities of that criticism, when perhaps he is not responsible for errors of judgment which might have been made.
The most important immediate problem facing us at present is the rundown in the coal industry. Much help will be forthcoming from the Coal Industry Bill to ease some of the financial difficulties facing the Coal Board and its men. The rundown in the coal industry might cost the United Kingdom very dearly in the not too distant future. Time and time again we have been badly advised by statisticians and by the so-called fuel experts. My fear is that not in the late 'seventies but in the early 'seventies we shall be very short of fuel for the domestic market and will be forced to import not only oil, but even coal to make up for the deficit. However, I have said this many times before and this is not a debate on fuel.
I want to make one or two observations on the Welsh Office and what I think it should do. It is obvious that events are being brought about far too rapidly for a human being to cope with 753 them. In the long term prospects for Wales are very bright indeed. I have never been pessimistic about this. If the policies which the Welsh Office is now laying down are fulfilled the prospects in the long term will be very good, but what we are concerned about is the immediate future and what we can do to ease the passage to a brighter future.
I implore my right hon. Friend—I wish the Minister of Power were here also for me to say it to him—to say "No" if there is a proposal to close a colliery when there is any difficulty about men being employed within a reasonable distance of the area concerned. I should like him to emulate General de Gaulle and to keep saying "Non ".
What is not generally appreciated is the serious effect that the rundown in the coal industry has upon many ancillary industries in South Wales. The existence there of the N.C.B. has meant many thousands of jobs in manufacturing, service and otherwise, in those industries which supply the needs of the coal industry, such as electricity and the railways. This is one more reason why the rundown must be slowed so that we can deal with it in manageable proportions.
In the realm of industrial planning, I put a proposal before my right hon. Friend which I think can prove helpful for the future. The way the Government are planning to tackle a contracting industry may prove very valuable for the future of those industries which may—indeed will—have to face contraction in the future changing pattern of industry. An experiment could be undertaken.
Here I refer to my constituency, and I make no apology for doing so. There is a Phurnacite plant in my constituency which supplies 1 million tons of smokeless fuel. At present, the demand seems to be insatiable. Without question it is the means of keeping two or three collieries open in the constituency. No one can tell what the future life of a colliery may be, but at least my valley is at present not on the black list.
I make this point for the Minister of Power. I f we do not restore confidence in the mining industry we shall not have the men in the pits in the very near future. If we are not careful we shall 754 not have the fuel to supply the Phurnacite and other smokeless fuel plants.
Will the consumers then turn to oil? If they do not, we shall have to import coal to supply their needs, thus increasing our dependence upon foreign coal. The Cynon Valley, which is in my constituency, is not faced with an immediate closure, but one can tell what the future may bring. Time is on the side of the Welsh Office in this area, and it could consult the two urban district authorities concerned, seek their co-operation, and get them to plan industrial estates in the area and to improve communications to existing estates north and south of the Valley. The Welsh Office could also find out from the National Coal Board what the future life of collieries there is. This is a real chance to show what planning can do when time is on the side of the planners.
We have heard much about public procurement. My hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Padley) made special reference to this matter. Anyone who has sat on the Estimates Committee and on the Committee of Public Accounts, as I have, will appreciate the extent of Government contracts. The present Government have not done sufficient in the matter of using public procurement. In a rapidly changing industrial pattern, the social consequences to men and women can be eased considerably if the Government would use the tool of public procurement, as they use the tool of public investment, to put work into the factries of South Wales and other development areas.
On the question of dispersal, I am one of those who believe that the policy of putting a small factory here and there is not the only way to solve our problems. It helps to ease the passage of time and is welcome. I would welcome some evidence from the Board of Trade that it is heedful of the efforts of Welsh local authorities which are prepared to do something for themselves. Up to the moment it seems that the Board of Trade is sublimely ignorant and unconscious of such efforts by local authorities. If the Board of Trade were to recognise the wisdom of assisting such local authorities occasionally by erecting an advanced factory in their area, it would help these local authorities to proceed further in the matter of doing things for themselves.
755 The policy of dispersal is one to which the Government are committed. I compliment my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the Welsh Office on what they have done in recent months, in fact during the last year or two. If there is something on which we want to compliment them, it is on what they have succeeded in doing in this matter. However, I believe now that the minds of those in the Welsh Office must not be directed to the large towns but more and more to the fringe areas.
I do not want again to go into the folly of so much development on the coastal strip. As my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Tudor Watkins) said, we were appalled to hear about development at the mouths of the valleys. There is a strong suspicion in the minds of a number of us that the Departments concerned secretly believe that development of the coastal strip at the mouths of the valleys is the only solution.
This would be a wrong policy. Some hon. Members have spoken about growth development. They are under a delusion if they think that growth development can take place only on the coast. Such development could create problems of conurbations in a very short time. I will not develop this theme further, because I know that other hon. Members want to speak.
It is wrong to assume that office or administrative dispersal must go near large cities. Let us consider it in the context of South Wales. The South Wales valleys of Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire are no more than about 20 miles from the northernmost parts of Cardiff and Swansea. Looking at this in the geographical context of London, it can be seen how close this can be. Therefore, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State must consider future dispersals in this regard, because one or two dispersals of the kind to which he referred could solve many of the problems of the valleys of Monmouthshire.
Now, communications. I trust that the outer by-pass for Cardiff will be as far north of the city as possible, because it could prove to be an invaluable southward link from the valleys to the west, and more particularly to the east. With the completion of the Heads of the Valleys road westward, we could have a 756 splendid communication pattern, not only for the Swansea valleys, but also for the Glamorganshire valleys and for the Monmouthshire valleys.
Finally, I thank my right hon. Friend for extending the existing industrial estates and for the works of improvement which he has sanctioned to start in the next few months. A number of us have asked for these improvements for a long time, particularly for improvements to the Hirwaun Trading Estate. I am sure that the improvement of this estate—I thank my right hon. Friend for the £55,000 to be spent on it—can do much to attract industrialists there, and, just as important, keep the ones which are there longer still.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)
Earlier today I listened with interest to the debate between the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) speaking on behalf of their respective parties, and, as I listened to them, I felt that there was something in the old saying that by dividing one's enemies one could conquer.
We are debating a comprehensive and useful document which contains much of interest on the future development of Wales. It discusses some problems which are peculiar to Wales, but I have always argued, and the White Paper does not show otherwise, that the problems of Wales are the same as those of the United Kingdom, only more so.
The Government are to be commended for the measures they have taken to mitigate some of the worst effects of the deflationary policies for Wales, but what has been done has not been sufficient fully to counteract the effects of the deflationary measures, and the Welsh economy has been hard pressed as a result. There is still need to build a strong Welsh economy, and the White Paper rightly attempts to point the way ahead.
A number of matters must be tackled. South Wales, in particular, needs a lot of tidying up. For generations, we have had desecration in the mining valleys. It is vital that adequate roads and communications be provided. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State dealt with this matter in detail when opening the 757 debate, and I appreciate that much has been done and much is in progress, but it is still fair to say that much remains to be accomplished. Ministers at the Welsh Office will know that I have pressed them for some time regarding the completion dates for road links to the Midlands. These are vital for the future development of Wales.
Chapter IV of the White Paper, page 23, deals with the Welsh ports. There have been significant developments recently at the Newport docks. On 8th September last, we were privileged to have the major new timber terminal opened by the Prime Minister. The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) was somewhat critical of the Government's policy with regard to the ports, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. E. Rowlands) pointed out, if his party had been in power the Port-bury scheme would have been proceeded with, and it would have been most unlikely that developments of the kind I have just mentioned would have been possible.
I have mentioned the new timber terminal at Newport, but I cannot help adding that it is a pity that an important development such as this cannot be accompanied by the provision of a new dock access road. This is vital if loads are to be speedily distributed from Newport as far afield as Manchester and Plymouth.
I was told a few weeks ago that deadlock had been reached because of lack of agreement on financing the project. A scheme had been suggested under which contributions would be made by the British Transport Docks Board, the Welsh Office and Newport Corporation. Unfortunately, I now understand that on a point of principle the Docks Board at the highest level has declined to make a contribution. Can my hon. Friend the Minister of State tell us when she winds up what plans are still afoot to progress the project? It would be a pity if it were left in abeyance indefinitely.
I appreciate that in debating a document like the White Paper one must not be too parochial. Nevertheless, a significant item needs mentioning—the proposed Uskmouth terminal, which was to be built at an estimated cost of £14 million. The docks Board obtained the necessary Parliamentary powers for the 758 project in the last Session. The next step would be for it to apply to the Ministry of Transport for consent to go ahead, but before doing so it took a fresh look at its customers' requirements. As the steel industry has now been taken into public ownership a new situation has arisen, and a new terminal at Port Talbot is already under way. The managing director of the South Wales group of the British Steel Corporation has set up a working party, on which the Docks Board and British Railways Board are represented, to examine the situation in depth. We are at present awaiting its findings with interest.
If it is decided to go ahead with the Uskmouth project, I understand that the intention will be that it would be operated and financed entirely separately from the existing Newport docks. The bulk of the tonnage at Newport docks at present consists of the importation of iron ore. Therefore, if the Uskmouth project went ahead Newport docks would have to branch out and secure new forms of cargo. That would undoubtedly be a formidable undertaking.
If the decision is taken not to go ahead with the project, would the idea then be that iron ore should be transported by rail from Port Talbot to Newport? Such an arrangement would be of no benefit to Newport and would be most unwelcome. The Docks Board accepts that the present facilities for handling iron ore at Newport need modernising. However, it has been reluctant to invest in new plant and machinery for fear that it would become obsolete if the Uskmouth project were proceeded with. But provided it is decided not to go ahead with the project, the Docks Board will take early steps to modernise and renew the existing facilities.
Under the heading, "Supply of Labour in 1971", paragraph 92 of the White Paper states:The general picture painted of Wales as compared with Great Britain as a whole is therefore of a smaller proportion of employees in the population, a higher proportion of unemployed, and an employee population which has been growing more slowly. The number of male employees has been relatively static and indeed tending to decline in Wales.To my way of thinking, that does not make very happy reading.
The position after the Second World War was that every sort of industry was 759 encouraged to come to Wales and the opportunity to set up complexes of related industries was missed. There were reasons for this, as I appreciate. Nevertheless, I believe that publicly-owned industries could now fill the gap. On 14th February last, I asked the President of the Board of Trade…if he will take steps to introduce public enterprise factories into those areas of the country which have failed to induce sufficient private enterprise concerns and as a result are abnormally affected by unemployment.My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) replied:The vigorous application of my powers under the Industrial Development and Local Employment Acts, including the provision of publicly-owned factories, provides the best means of helping the development areas."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1967; Vol. 741, c. 87.]I wish I could be as optimistic. Yesterday I put down a further Question to the President of the Board of Trade, asking my right hon. Friend…what steps he is taking to introduce publicly-owned industries in Wales, bearing in mind the need to make use of sheet steel produced locally for manufacturing purposes, and thereby creating a more balanced and stable economic structure.This time, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State replied, saying:We have no such plans at present."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 225.]I feel that this is most regrettable. I believe, having listened to him, that my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Tudor Watkins) supports me in this. We have to be realistic and appreciate that, despite inducements which have been offered, only limited results have been achieved. For this reason, too, I welcome the decision of the South Wales miners to come out in support of publicly-owned industries. They realise that this could be the answer, at least in the long term, to the rundown in the mining industry, and it must be appreciated also that there are a number of factories vacant in Wales at present.
What is more, before the Government came to power, prominent Labour Party spokesmen advocated publicly-owned factories if privately-owned factories could not be induced in sufficient quantities. I appreciate, nevertheless, that this 760 would be a very difficult task, but we hope in the months and years ahead to have a major upturn in trade, and I suggest that projects of this kind could be started in a small way. I am not asking for a Llanwenn-sized project, but there are areas where there are pockets of unemployment in which this could be justified, and if a loss were made that could be justified on social grounds alone. After all, private enterprise has failed to fill this need. I trust that the Welsh Office is using its considerable influence to bring this sort of project into being.
We are witnessing in our country at present the growth of nationalism. I have always been proud of my Welsh background, but I must confess that at the present moment the independence I am more concerned with is the independence of the United Kingdom. We have witnessed in the last twenty years or so the steady erosion of that independence, and I have a theory that the growth of nationalism can at least partly be attributed to this unsatisfactory state of affairs.
In his broadcast a fortnight ago, the Prime Minister spoke of our being a proud people, and this epithet particularly applies to the people of Wales, but the spark of idealism needs to be rekindled. Britain has just met a serious financial crisis and the Government's decision to devalue was wise and courageous. It will enable the economy to expand and we shall be able to get rid of the wasteful unemployment which should not have been created in the first place. I believe that the Welsh economy can flourish only when the economy of the United Kingdom as a whole is flourishing. It is only then that the vitally necessary industry can be diverted to the Principality.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)
During the course of his devaluation speech, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the present Home Secretary, in a comment which he has now suggested might have been made a little clumsily, indicated his deep concern about the disenchantment which appeared to be running through the land with the whole of the process of Parliamentary process and the political parties. Being in touch not only with the affairs of State, but his own constituency in Wales, he was expressing something of which all of us are deeply aware.
761 We well understand that in Wales there cannot be disillusionment with the Tories, for the people of Wales have no illusions about the Tories. But it is a different matter when it comes to the Labour Party, for we who have been brought up inside the Social Democratic movement in Wales know full well that, however hard the times may be and however many setbacks there may have been and however often leaders may have betrayed us, as they did in 1931, during the whole of these years there has been burning idealism and a faith in the democratic process and in the belief that the pursuit of Socialist principles would and could result in a marvellous improvement in the quality and standard of life.
If there is at present a different mood, it must cause all of us belonging to the Labour movement deep concern. Thus we may see ugly incidents, such as that which occurred recently at the Temple of Peace in Wales; we find that some people irresponsibly create myths distort statistics and facts and mislead young people; that these youngsters are encouraged to be suspicious of the major parties to regress emotionally into myths and to turn to a form of activation which the whole of Wales regarded with abhorrence, the placing of a bomb in the Temple of Peace.
It really is quite absurd that, when we have fought for so long to have an economy which could create so much, which could give leisure and opportunity, at the very moment when all these wonderful technological changes are taking place, throughout Wales there is apprehension, concern and fear. When we are able to emancipate man from the indignity of having to go down into holes in the earth, when we are able marvellously to get gas from the North Sea and to harness atomic energy for peaceful purposes, at this very moment there is this profound and deep concern. Instead of regarding all this as the great opportunity to apply our Socialist principles, we find timidity and hesitation and a lack of belief and credibility in what all of us in our political parties are now telling Wales.
Who can doubt that the truth is that we are at a turning point in our political democracy? This is a great opportunity to harness all that has now been wrested in the name of science and is now available to us. But there are firm biological laws. We adapt or die. We have to obey that 762 iron rule of evolution. If we are to ensure that what man has created is used for the benefit of the community and to create not unemployment, but leisure, and not to cause fear of the machine but to ensure that by mastery of the machine we have a new world, then there must be imagination in leadership and a capacity to adapt.
How slowly the Tories adapted themselves to acceptance of the need for change in their stupid and inadequate Local Employment Acts of 1960 and 1963. But even so it was not until there was sufficient clamour did we produce our Industrial Development Act in 1966. No sooner done than the special grants applicable to qualifying expenditure had to be yet further increased, and that done, ever lagging behind the demonstrable need, came first a White Paper and then the creation of the Regional Employment Premium.
Each step taken was declared to suffice for the present. Each step, however, was declared by some of us to be inadequate because we suspected, and continued to suspect, the sanguine prognosis of legislators failing to acknowledge the cataclysmic changes precipitated by the technological revolution upon Wales. Now, one by one, more steps are acknowledged to be needed, but the unemployment figures speak far more eloquently than any of us can. Came the announcement of the three industrial estates. Now comes the creation of the super development areas covering one-sixth of the existing Welsh development area.
A week or so ago came the recognition of the need to widen still further the differential advantage to be given to the Welsh development areas through the Selective Employment Tax. Despite all this, we remain cruelly encumbered by nostalgia. The affectation remains that we can squeeze our large-scale twentieth century industries on to the sites whose selection was determined by the needs of the mining and iron-making industry of one or two centuries ago.
All the available evidence points to the benefits which could arise to all of Wales if growth points with development area inducements were established in the areas naturally most attractive to modern industry—and that means the mouths of the valleys and South-East Wales. All this we resist because we are talking as 763 if the combustion engine has not been invented and as if the road engineers could not speedily overcome the difficulties of terrain and enable our valley communities to live in their present homes and yet reach speedily new places of employment.
This theme could be illustrated, too, by our failure to adapt to the need for more and more training schemes. Two weeks ago, the Minister of Labour, in reply to a Question, told me that he was considering—considering, forsooth—whether further training centres were needed in a Wales where only seven redundant miners were retrained last year. But everything depends not only on Wales adjusting itself to the new technological revolution but on Britain as a whole adjusting itself to its new rôle.
As long as we do not speed up our withdrawal, for example, from Malaysia and Singapore, so long will we be short of the wealth which can enable us completely to redevelop the road system in Wales for which every hon. Member today has asked. As long as we have our absurd commitments east of Suez, so long as we shall have a defence budget of £2,000 million, which is absurdly large for our economy, so long will we have a Minister who has to justify the amount spent on communications in Wales on the basis that no more is available nationally.
How do the miners feel about the insistence of a Government who, incited by the stupidity of the party opposite, tell them that we need a military presence in the Persian Gulf to maintain stability and ensure our oil supplies? Shall we close the mines, telling them that we must do it to get cheap fuel for British industry so that we may earn more money for exports to pay for more bases in the Persian Gulf? Shall we continue to tell the people of South Wales that there must be a pruning in Wales of capital expenditure during a year when we are spending £12 million in military installations in Bahrain alone?
Is the Welsh Economic Council to be told that the expediting of the M4 extension must wait, since we are spending £75 million apiece on Polaris submarines and that they must have priority over the capital expenditure which is urgently needed in Wales? When we ask for an 764 expansion in Wales of publicly-controlled new industries, shall we be told that this expenditure is impossible, since we have entered into contracts for the F111K and other American aircraft which will amount collectively to about £1,000 million over the next 10 years? When we demand a massive expansion of the retraining scheme for redundant workers in South Wales, will this Government tell us that we must spend our money on keeping troops trained in Germany, that our presence in Western Europe is inviolable, and that nothing can be found to put into Wales?
I have read the conditions of the I.M.F. loan according to today's newspapers. Everyone rightly acknowledges and recognises that if deflation goes on again all the efforts of the Secretary of State for Wales may be completely destroyed. When I do read those conditions—and I doubt whether they will prove to be very different from that which was said in The Guardian this morning—and see their ominous character, that we are putting ourselves dangerously in pawn, subject to the surveillance of restrictive bankers who demand all along the line that we should have deflation, then I realise that these are the real dangers to Wales.
In my view, time is running out. Our attachment to the shibboleth of the £ has cost us dear. If we fail to adapt to a rapidly changing world, if we still sing the City incantations to the immutable rôle of sterling as an international currency, if we continue our absurd genuflections to a Tory Defence policy, this Government can and will fail. My constituents sent me here because they share my belief that democratic Socialism can work. By their conduct—it will not be by words, because words are highly suspect in Wales today—in the next year the Cabinet must show that they have not abandoned their faith. If such deeds are not performed, the way ahead for Wales and for British democracy is very dark.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Monmouth)
The natural emphasis in the White Paper is on the jobs problem and how far the policies of the Government, actual and forecast, are likely to tackle it. I have three questions to put to my hon. Friend under this broad heading.
765 First, are we satisfied that we are being sufficiently selective in linking our assistance to industries which will provide jobs, rather than simply filling floor space? I have in mind particularly the discussions which I have had with several local authorities about applications for development area assistance which they have had from groups such as battery farms, which will not provide jobs for many people but will just fill floor space.
Secondly, do we not need a crash programme of training on a greater scale than we have had from the Government so far? I have pressed, with others, for a new training centre in the County of Monmouth, and I plead that something be done urgently about it, because in our county we have had examples where new firms coming into areas of high unemployment have found great difficulty in getting hold of men with the requisite skills.
Thirdly, under this same heading, I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State actually gave an alternative figure for the job gap in 1971. When he replies to the debate perhaps my hon. Friend will remedy that omission.
One further general point about the White Paper which I find disappointing is this insularity, as if the draftsmen have been told to exclude the implications of development outside Offa's Dyke. I have argued before that, in many ways, quite as important to the economy of Wales as pushing the M4 further westward, is the completion of the remaining section of it in England, which shows how far developments outside Wales can have a profound effect on our economy. This insularity could mean a stubborn refusal to cash in on the great assets of East Wales.
I would refer to the miserably small attention which has been given to Severnside in this Report and contrast that with the visionary passage in the South West Survey on this same theme which shows how inadequate, unimaginative and stodgy is the section in the Report devoted to the potential of Severnside. I hope that the fact that only one paragraph out of 435 paragraphs in the White Paper is devoted to those areas in Wales outside the development area is not a true reflection of the importance which the Welsh Office attaches to them, be- 766 cause, if tackled properly, they can make a major contribution to the jobs problem.
I will give two constituency examples which I know best. Cooper's Mechanical Joints, in Abergavenny, which draws 30 per cent. of its labour force from within the development area, was sent there in 1946 to tackle the difficult jobs problem.
A better example is the parish of Rogerstone. The Alcan Company there, a mile or so from the development area, draws over 60 per cent. of its work force from that development area, yet gaining none of the incentives which the Government give. How shortsighted can we be in stubbornly refusing to accept what an area like Rogerstone can do for areas like Risca within the development area? How stubborn can we get in refusing to face this problem?
To take a hypothetical example, Alcan has factories at Banbury and at Roger-stone and it has a new investment to make. What stimulus is there from the Government to make it invest at Roger-stone rather than Banbury? If it invests at Rogerstone, at least six of the ten jobs which are generated there will help the jobs problem within the development area. This, I think, is a great criticism of the refusal of the Government so far to face the facts.
We will be told about the Hunt Committee, but rumour is that it will not in fact report until June of next year. Therefore, we will not be able to take advantage of the industrial boost which we expect from the devaluation measures.
A practical way to help areas within the deveolpment area, such as Risca which has an 8 per cent. unemployment rate, is by providing special assistance for companies like Alcan and others within areas like Rogerstone and Cwmbran, which my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) knows only too well.
I do not think that one can make out a real case for building grants on the lines of those given to factories in the development areas. There should be equipment grants of more than the 25 per cent. generally available to firms—perhaps 33⅓per cent. But most important is the regional employment premium. I think that firms on the periphery, like Alcan at Rogerstone, which can provide real assistance to the jobs problem at places within 767 the development area should receive payments for every person employed from the development area. Already, over 60 per cent. of Alcan's work force live within the development area. These points, particularly the adjustment through the R.E.P. machinery, should be looked at urgently and sympathetically by my right hon. Friend and his colleagues in the Government.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on this his first appraisal of the development needs of Wales. Some people say that we have not gone far enough. I have referred to some spheres in which we need to look at these problems again, but this White Paper, this first step, linked with my right hon. Friend's proposals for the reorganisation of local government, gives us a good solid infrastructure for the building of the new Wales.
§ Mr. E. Rowlands
On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I have your guidance on the problem of those hon. Members who have not had a chance to take part in the debate tonight? On Tuesday night, during the coal debate, there was an extension of time, following a business Motion for this purpose. We debate Welsh affairs once a year. The last time we debated this topic was about this time last year, and some hon. Members who have been here since half-past three this afternoon have not had the opportunity to take part in the debate. Is there any way in which it can be extended?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
The hon. Member will be aware that it is not open to the Chair to extend the time for the debate. He has made his point and all that I can advise him to do is to raise the matter at Business Question time when next a debate on Welsh affairs is announced.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
I sympathise with the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. E. Rowlands). Perhaps, in passing, I might say that I have some little responsibility for the fact that this debate was called at all, because every Thursday at Business Question time it has been my pleasure to get up and ask for this debate, and I have felt that 768 I have had all hon. Gentlemen opposite with me when I have done so. One knows what it feels like to sit through a debate and to listen to all the excellent ideas put forward by one's colleagues, and those on the other side of the House, while having to sit on one's own excellent suggestions. The only bit of advice that I can give the hon. Gentleman is to publish his unborn speech in the newspaper in his constituency.
This day on Welsh affairs always provides a good debate, and certainly today has been no exception. I always consider it a great privilege to be allowed to take part in this debate. I have listened to every speech today except that of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths), and I very much regret having missed it because I always like listening to him.
There is one matter which I would like to raise now, and I hope that the House will bear with me. Today's debate will end at ten o'clock. I regret that four hon. Members are now taking part in a television programme, discussing the very subject which we are discussing. I do not want to be pompous about this, but things have come to a pretty pass. One of the hon. Members was kind enough to let me know that he would not be here for my winding-up speech. I have no intention of mentioning the hon. Members by name. It is not their fault. It is wrong that the television authorities cannot even wait until the debate in the House has ended. I cannot see that this helps the position of the House of Commons as things are today.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps we might ask our hon. Friends on the Front Bench to discuss this with the Leader of the House. This is the first time that I have heard of a topic being discussed outside the House while a debate on it is still proceeding here.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his support.
In the debate today, we have heard so many different remarks and different points of view from so many different Members that I sense a very different atmosphere from that in the debate a year ago. Then we were much more relaxed in discussing the affairs of Wales. 769 It is a matter of common agreement that the economic problems with which our country has been faced and with which the Government have been attempting unsuccessfully to deal have greatly affected the position in Wales and especially the development areas.
The right hon. Gentleman went to considerable, lengths in discussing the most important question of jobs and employment. I hope to deal with it as well. But I hope that he will understand me when I say that I thought that he went to considerable pains to lay much of the responsibility upon the Conservative Government. We were in office for a number of years. No Government is perfect, but during that period unemployment figures and percentages were very much lower than, unhappily, they are today.
What the Minister said has some validity, in that anything which he does now will have an effect on what happens three or four years ahead. But if he looks at the consecutive figures for the long years during which we were in office I do not think that he will be able to sustain his argument to the full, although I understnad why he put forward that argument this afternoon.
I join with the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), in his condemnation of what happened in the Temple of Peace in Cardiff on 17th November. I must regret that owing to two prior engagements I was unable to be present at that meeting—as I informed the Secretary of State—to listen to the investiture plans and the discussion taking place with the Welsh Tourist Board. It is difficult to understand the mentality of people who wantonly destroy buildings which have been erected to the glory of peace and the wellbeing of mankind. Everyone in Wales except a very small minority would make an outright condemnation of this and other actions of the same sort which have occurred.
Many of us know a good deal about explosives. We know that time switches can be affected by human error. The only good thing that I can see to have come out of this incident is the fact that the Secretary of State is sitting where he is today, and was not killed then.
I want to follow up what my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West 770 (Mr. Birch) had to say about agriculture. The first and very immediate point is the foot-and-mouth outbreak, which we shall be debating next week. As a farmer, I have no knowledge of foot-and-mouth disease, because nobody has any knowledge of it. But I have some knowledge of the misery that farmers are now going through, and in my view some local authorities have done rather better than others in dealing with this matter.
We do not know how to deal with the disease, but we are told that if disinfectant pads are put down and vehicles are sprayed it may help. Last Saturday I travelled from Bangor to my home in Radnorshire and on only one occasion on the main roads did I go over a disinfected pad. The disinfectant campaign should have been pitched a great deal higher and a great deal earlier than it was. I do not necessarily blame the Minister of Agriculture; but whereas individual farmers were taking a great deal of trouble over this matter, I could not see that the message had got through to local authorities. We hear today of five new outbreaks in Flintshire, one in Denbighshire and two in Montgomeryshire on top of the more than 200 outbreaks in Wales let alone England, which show how bad the situation is.
I would now like to return to the plan. The right hon. Gentleman will not mind my pulling his leg about whether it was a plan or not. On 9th January he referred to it as "the coming plan", but when it came out there was no question of it being a plan; it was "The Way Ahead". It is a goodish sort of survey, but does not amount to more. It is fatter than the normal annual survey of Welsh affairs and, therefore, provides much more material for debate, as the quality of speeches today has proved. It had a pretty rough reception when it appeared, a long time ago now, in July.
My hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh (Mr. Geraint Morgan) said that the National Plan was in rags when "The Way Ahead" came out. Professor Nevin, whose name has been so often repeated, had this to say about the plan, although he was perhaps prejudiced:It was a spectacular non-event.We know that as a result he left the Economic Council. I am sorry about that, since he is a valuable economist 771 who should have continued to add to information in this respect.
Some of this plan is by now out-dated. Many of the figures discussed on both sides tonight show this. I support what one hon. Gentleman opposite said, that although this may not be a plan and nothing to arouse euphoria, it should be repeated in a minor form so that we may continue to debate the affairs of Wales with all the possible information that the Welsh Office can give.
One matter in the plan, the Mid-Wales Rural Development Board, is running into some trouble. It was born from the Agriculture Act of 1967 and we who live in Mid-Wales were the guinea-pigs for the setting up of such a Board. Many country people today believe that we are getting too many authorities. We are now to have the spread of the Countryside Commission by means of a Bill which both sides will generally support, but the Government of the day should be very careful before fastening too many authorities on the country districts which often have overlapping responsibilities.
The Secretary of State made a speech and wrote an article in January on this question. I will not quote from it, since I answered it to the best of my ability in the newspapers at the time. I do not believe that the Government's attitude towards small farmers is right. There will always be a great number of small and part-time farmers, particularly in Wales, and we should not have entered into legislation which takes compulsory powers and takes land which will change hands off the market. Let us consider the instance when someone in a family dies. If the trustees of that family want to sell that land, then I understand that, if the land is in a development area, it cannot be sold until the O.K. has been given by the Development Board. If so, this is direct interference with selling land on the open market; and, in the long run, I do not believe that it will work.
As for the compulsory powers in the Bill, I am glad that the present Chairman of the Board, the much respected Welshman Dr. Richard Phillips, has said that he will not use the powers he has been given by the Government. I trust 772 him completely and only hope that he will continue as Chairman for as long as the Board is in existence. I also hope that, should he be succeeded, the new Chairman will come to the same agreement.
On 14th November last the Secretary of State announced a number of jobs that would be available in South Wales as part of the Government's programme to bring industry to Wales, particularly to meet redundancy in the coalfields. All hon. Members wish the right hon. Gentleman success in his efforts to attract industrialists to these areas. I have always said that industrialists who come to Wales recognise the quality of the labour and find that it is one of the better industrial areas in which to work for all concerned, including the executives they bring with them.
It is, therefore, more a question of persuasion and incentive-giving by the Government than the attitude adopted by some hon. Gentlemen opposite about the direction of industry. I hope that we will not come to that. I cannot help believing that the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues may have some success, providing—and this point was made succinctly by the hon. Member for Pontypool—that we see an upturn in the economy as a whole.
Much has been said about the development areas and my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West rightly pointed out that we do not agree with the Government's conception of a development area. The hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Anderson), who spoke about Rogerstone in his constituency, made a good point when he said that the way in which the development areas were drawn often meant that 60 per cent. of the people working in a factory outside a development area came from inside a development area. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West knows, this applies at Prestatyn in North Wales, which has a 5 per cent. unemployment rate and which is just outside a development area.
I do not want to labour the question of jobs in the coal mining industry. I am aware that many hon. Members have spent much of their lives in the mining industry. However, was Lord Robens so wrong to tell what he considered to be the truth? After all, he was trying to 773 put in terms of jobs that would be available in the years to come the July figures of the Minister of Power of coal tonnages projected forward to 1971 and 1980.
If I had a Welsh constituency with a high percentage of coal miners in it, I would feel this to be an extremely touchy problem. However, I question whether or not the Government—indeed, the Minister of Power—was wrong to have such an argument with Lord Robens about it, although I appreciate the shock that hon. Gentlemen opposite must have had. Those employed in the mining industry, as well as others, are keen to know what possible employment will exist in the industry in the years to come.
Much has been said about this problem, and about the size of the task which the Secretary of State and his colleagues face. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) accused me and my party of treating the Government softly. A time when one is dealing with questions of jobs and high unemployment is not the time to start shouting, but the time, whether we are in Opposition or in Government, to seek to work together in order to get jobs to the places that need them. That is my answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman.
We all know that Milford Haven is not only the centre of a very important tourist industry, but has also become an international oil port with a great number of oil jetties. Will the Secretary of State consider safeguards against sulphur fumes from the oil-fired power station on the north-west coast of Milford Haven? We hear a lot today about blight of various sorts, but, on the information I have, I am not entirely happy that the Central Electricity Generating Board is providing safeguards here. My hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington) has referred also to the disposal of chemicals at the projected R.T.Z. smelter in Anglesey, but the Secretary of State knows more about this than I do.
In any plan the Government may have for the ports—and I am glad to see the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport in his place—will they please avoid putting Milford Haven in with the other ports? They are totally different types. Milford Haven is an international oil centre, which depends entirely on cargoes from abroad. It has been run by the 774 Conservancy with the very greatest competence, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to safeguard the management of the port from falling into the hands of an outside port authority. Today, the Milford Haven oil terminal, as it is, makes a very considerable profit.
Our debate has been rather more sombre than that of a year ago. We shall look forward to another debate in a year's time—or perhaps sooner, if that can be managed—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I am glad to have the support of hon. Members opposite. If such a debate can be arranged, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to provide us with a document such as "Wales: The Way Ahead"—though something not as fat or as big, and perhaps a little more up to date. The problems set out in this White Paper are the problems of Wales. The facts in it may be out of date and not accurate in every way, but they put before us the problems we have tried to discuss this evening.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mrs. Eirene White)
We have had a very good, extremely interesting and wide-ranging debate which, I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House will appreciate, is not an easy debate to which to reply. We are discussing primarily the document, Wales: The Way Ahead, which in itself is an extremely comprehensive review of the problems which face us in Wales today. I do not think that the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) should call a document which plans so far ahead as out of date.
This is also an occasion when many hon. Members, understandably, take the opportunity to ventilate matters of great interest to their constituencies. Some of those matters, perhaps, do not fit very comfortably into the main lines of argument, but one entirely understands that hon. Members should raise them. If I am not able to deal with all the points which have been made, I assure hon. Members that we will communicate with them and give answers to points of detail which do not come within the main lines of argument. Before dealing with the discussion of the Report, there are two particular matters I should touch on.
I very much wish to associate my right hon. Friend and all of us on this side 775 of the House with the sympathy which has been expressed with the farming community in Wales about foot-and-mouth disease. My right hon. Friend did not mention it because, by a natural division of labour, it was agreed that I should do so. I do so with all the more feeling because of the Welsh counties, Flintshire is the one most harshly affected. I was sorry to learn today that there are now more outbreaks in Flintshire bringing the total in that county alone to more than 100. There are other counties in Wales which are afflicted. I am sure we should use this occasion for expressing very great sympathy and understanding with the farmers in the way they have been stricken.
There is another matter which did not come within the general ambit of the Report. It was raised by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington). I must briefly deal with that matter because, if it is not replied to, there may be misunderstandings. I am quite sure the hon. Member is well aware that a public inquiry is to be held in Holyhead on 9th January next on the planning aspects of the matter. This will give an opportunity for all objectors who so desire to be represented and heard in evidence. This applies also to those who support the project. I am sure that in the circumstances the hon. Member would not wish me—in fact, it would not be proper for me—to make any detailed comments on this scheme.
I say in relation to his remarks that the figures which he gave of unemployment in Anglesey at the moment were not quite accurate. There are 1,200 unemployed approximately at present and when the run-down on the construction of Wylfa power station takes place shortly there will be a further 2,400 redundant. Not all of those are local, but many of them are. Therefore, it would be wrong to give a false impression of the very serious situation in Anglesey. When the hon. Member's party was in power, the unemployment rate there was 10 or 11 per cent. We have reduced it, but it is still extremely serious.
The hon. Member said that this was not a personal matter. He is, on the other hand, a property owner in Anglesey.
§ Mrs. White
I am not giving way. I accept entirely what he said, but it is only right that we should get the matter fully into perspective.
§ Mrs. White
If the hon. Member rents his house, I withdraw.
Turning to the main subject of the debate, which is this document Wales: The Way Ahead, the hon. Member for Hereford said that it had had a rather rough reception. It is, of course, true that there have been certain criticisms, but I should like the House to know how much encouraged I have been to hear the comments of those who will have to carry out planning exercises in Wales. There was a conference in Cardiff a few weeks ago at which two of the most well-known and distinguished county planning officers in South Wales paid a very warm tribute to this Report and said how very useful and helpful they would find it in their work. I would prefer to take their opinion to the opinion of certain academic critics who are a little further removed from the actual challenge of planning in important county areas in Wales.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said something about the part played by the Welsh Economic Council. As Chairman of the present Council, I want to say a few words about its work. The work of the Council includes a study of the way in which the new Welsh Council could best take up economic and other related planning issues when the three-year appointments of the present Council terminate at the end of next March. The new Welsh Council will essentially be a natural evolution from the existing body, although wider in scope. One of the important changes is that the new Council will have a chairman chosen from among its members, not a Ministerial chairman as at present.
Nearly a year's experience of the present arrangements leads me to endorse this proposition, albeit, I must say, with very much personal regret, because for me it has been invaluable to have had regular contacts with the Council. I am particularly glad to say that the present members have suggested that ways should be found of maintaining contacts with Ministers at the Welsh Office, though on a different basis.
777 Even as things now stand, the Council is very far from being Ministerially muzzled, but, because a Minister cannot very well be a party to public expressions of views which may by implication be critical of other sections of the Government, we have had to use the device of making all public representations to the Government through the Vice-Chairman, at present Sir Alfred Nicholas, to whom I would like to pay a very warm tribute. It will be appreciated that this puts me, as Chairman of the Council, in a rather invidious position. Last week, the Council sent a resolution to the Prime Minister emphasising what it feels is needed for industrial strength in Wales to grow to its full capacity under the challenge of devaluation. This had, quite properly, to be sent through the Vice-Chairman, Sir Alfred Nicholas. I am sure, therefore, that hon. Members will appreciate the reasons why we think that the proposed change is desirable.
It will be for the new Council to make its own decisions on the way it tackles its business, but I hope very much that it will find it appropriate to conduct a good deal of its work, at any rate, in fairly small groups on a functional basis. The range of subjects which it may work on include industry and employment, including science and technology; communications of all kinds, including air transport; environment, including land use, water, tourism, recreation and amenities, and the attack on derelict land; social and cultural provision, and studies of population trends; and, drawing all these together, its concept of regional strategy, and the major studies such as the Severn-side and the Dee Crossing.
§ Mr. Anderson
Is it intended that the new Council will be able to draw fully on the resources of the Welsh Office, or will it have an independent professional staff?
§ Mrs. White
It will be able to draw on the resources of the Welsh Office, and I am very happy to say that, as from 1st January, we are in a position to strengthen the staff servicing the Council, including a very welcome brain drain in reverse—a Welsh economist returning from the University of Strathclyde.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
The Minister of State has brought this matter in. It does not come under "Wales: The Way Ahead." I do not object to that. It is 778 clear that this matter, unlike the first part of the White Paper on local government, will not be a matter for debate in the House. Are the Government bringing this in, without debate? Can the hon. Lady tell us who the new chairman of what is virtually this new advisory Council is to be?
§ Mrs. White
No. My right hon. Friend is not yet in a position to announce the name of the new chairman. I thought, on the other hand, that as economic planning and the document which is before us are extremely closely related, it was proper for me to indicate, and I thought that it would be of interest to the House if I indicated, the range of subjects on which my right hon. Friend would be expecting advice from the new Council when it is formed. This is not the occasion to discuss how such a council should be formed, but I hope that my indication of the kind of work which we hope it will do will help to clear people's minds as to the sort of body which is needed.
I turn now to some of the points which have been made in the debate. What concerns us all closely is the strategy for economic development in Wales, the strategy for the second industrial revolution, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Probert) put it, and the pace of change, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths) referred. It is with both direction and pace that we are most concerned.
There is a very good pointer to the direction in the White Paper, "Wales: The Way Ahead." The general strategy outlined therein is already being effectively carried out by the Government, as has been evidenced by the various announcements made since the document was published, not least the announcement by the President of the Board of Trade about 10 days ago. We are well aware that, within this strategy, there are difficulties for particular areas, where people do not feel that their needs are completely met.
There has been discussion about the placing of the new estates at the mouths of the valleys. These are the growth points. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) complained that we were not paying regard to growth points. I can only suppose 779 that, for some reason, he has not been able to study the announcement by the President of the Board of Trade. These new estates are placed in the locations suggested precisely because those locations are growth points.
The larger estates are not within the valleys themselves but are within travelling distance thereof, and this is so precisely because the geographical conditions in South Wales are such that the major growth points are at the mouths of the valleys, or, in one or two cases—I give this to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare—at the heads of the valleys. But there are not many places within the valleys where one could have industrial growth on a large scale. This does not mean that within the valleys themselves one should not make use of such favourable sites as are available. This is being done; it is part of the policy, and it is one of the ways in which the advance factory programme can be of use.
I do not want to bandy figures about advance factories with the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans). All I say is that, having checked what I said in my intervention, I can assure him that what I said in putting his remarks about advance factories into proper perspective was absolutely correct. There was a different use of terms as between him and us. If he wants me to explain it afterwards, I shall be happy to do so.
We sympathise very much with those like my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Anderson) and the constituent of the right hon. Member for Flint, West—a case I know very well indeed—who are concerned about industrial establishments on the very borders of a development area. We fully appreciate the difficulties of this situation. On the other hand, if one is to have differential arrangements which favour areas in greatest need, one must draw a line somewhere and someone will be on the wrong side of it. The Hunt Committee has been set up precisely because we realise that an absolute all-or-nothing policy may have disadvantages which should be corrected. I thought that it was a little hard of my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth to say that we were refusing to face the problem, 780 when we are tackling it in the most intelligent way.
§ Mrs. White
My hon. Friend must find some other opportunity.
I want to say another word about the calculation of the job-gap. I could spend half an hour bandying statistics, but would not wish to do so. The important point is that the calculations published in the White Paper stand. They were made last March, and nothing has been said since to make us put the estimate of the job-gap any higher. We have taken into account the information on pit closures and other matters up to 1971. On the credit side, since March the Government have announced a number of measures which should considerably improve the prospect.
It would be not only for the interest of the House, but also a matter of efficient government that we should keep the estimate under constant review, and we propose to do so next March. After all, planning is a continuous process, and it would be only sensible to keep the figures up to date. Next March we shall see what has occurred during the intervening 12 months, and in due time we shall present to the House any revision which may be required in the calculation.
I should like to say something about the activity rates—an emotive bit of jargon. As my right hon. Friend stated, what the economists call the activity rate is lower in Wales than in Great Britain as a whole, because a higher percentage of children stay on at school beyond the normal school-leaving age, the number of retired people in Wales is higher, and there is a far higher percentage of self-employed people, who do not come into the statistics.
If the hon. Member for Carmarthen wants to change the activity rate, he must decide what he wants to do. Does he want to tell children to leave school earlier, tell the retired people who come into the constituency of the right hon. Member for Flint, West that they must not come, or does he want to force self-employed people to give up their independence? I do not think that lie wants 781 any of those things to happen. Therefore, I think that we may take the activity rate as explained.
To improve our prospects, one of the most important things is training, and I am glad that a number of hon. Members have referred to it. We are fully aware that it is not only in Government training centres that industrial training must take place; a far greater part must be in industry. Therefore, I am very glad that industrial training boards are doing a good job in Wales. We already have 21, and more are coming into being. There is a particularly difficult problem in the sparsely populated areas of Mid-Wales, but a meeting of the boards concerned is being held next week, and I hope that something concrete will come from it.
Meanwhile, four Government training centres are already active or in prospect. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has been holding discussions with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, and it will not be long before we can give the House particulars of a fifth Government training centre. I cannot say exactly where it will be, but I can say that the special areas in South Wales stretch into Monmouthshire.
Another very important aspect of industrial progress and advance is the application of science and technology and the whole House was encouraged and heartened by the announcement yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology of two important Government grants to the University Colleges of Swansea and Bangor to help them develop industrial units for co-operation between the university and industry. This will help to bring right into productive industry the first-class work being carried on at these two Colleges.
In Mid-Wales, the new town of Newtown is one of the main instruments of progress put forward by the Government for development in Mid-Wales. The period for lodging any objections to the draft designation order comes to an end on Saturday. So far, there have been no objections. If nothing comes in by the next post, we shall not have to have a public enquiry, which will save a great deal of time, and my right hon. Friend will be able to proceed with setting up the corporation. Rhyader is a test scheme 782 and it is right to take some time over it. I will be happy to talk to my hon. Friend the member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) about the details, but I do not think that the Welsh Office deserves some of the comments made recently about it.
As has been said, devaluation presents a further opportunity for tourism and I hope that Wales will take full advantage of it. As I have announced, we are taking steps to assist the tourist industry and the Tourist Board has recently appointed a director from the Irish Tourist Board, so I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be fully satisfied about that.
The basic anxieties of Wales are, of course, in all our minds and those of us who are Welsh men and women fully understand them both in the coal mining and the rural areas. The cure for these ills is certainly not in the separatist principles advocated by the hon. Member for Carmarthen and his friends.
I was interested that tonight, faced with hard economic facts, the hon. Member was a little less separatist than usual but I would say to my hon. and right hon. Friends," Why should we allow the hon. Member and his party to use a name which suggests that they alone care for Wales as a nation?", because, in the sense of well founded patriotism, we are all nationalists.
I see that the Liberal Party thinks that it may smell a little sweeter if it changes its name to the "Radical Party", but I doubt it. But, for that other party in Wales, we should use the name which represents what it clearly stands for. We should call it the "Welsh Separatist Party".
As for the Welsh Office, we shall not cease from mental strife—other kinds of strife are not really very productive—so long as Wales has even 0.1 per cent. above the national average of unemployment, so long as one factory remains empty and so long as one rural area loses population. Wales: The Way Ahead gives us our direction. It is for all of us to work together to attain the goal.
§ Mr. Joseph Harper (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.783