HC Deb 17 April 1969 vol 781 cc1303-4
6. Mr. Gwynfor Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to raise the activity rate in Wales.

Mrs. White

I would refer the hon. Member to the policies set out in "Wales: The Way Ahead" (Command 3334) and to subsequent regional policy decisions which are intended to eliminate any avoidable difference between activity rates in Wales and Great Britain as a whole.

Mr. Evans

Is the hon. Lady aware that the activity rate in Wales has further declined to 47.4 per cent., while that in Scotland is 56 per cent. and that in England 57.4 per cent.? If the activity rate in Wales equalled that of England, there would be 200,000 more people at work in Wales. Is she aware that they are Wales's hidden unemployed?

Mrs. White

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the figures of activity rates do not include self-employed persons, of whom there is a very large proportion in Wales, especially among small farmers, their wives and families. I am sure that he would not wish the farmers of Carmarthen and their wives to be regarded as economically inactive. Though there is certainly room for improvement, taking account of that fact, it is not as bad a picture as the hon. Gentleman would like to paint.

Mr. Birch

Can the hon. Lady assist me by defining what is meant by "activity rate"?

Mrs. White

I think that it would take too long in reply to a question.