HC Deb 29 January 1969 vol 776 cc1316-7
26. Mr. Hooson

asked the Minister of Technology what is the total value of grants given for research and development to existing firms in Wales.

Dr. Bray

In 1967/68 Ministry of Technology expenditure in support of research and development by existing firms in Wales totalled approximately £200,000.

Mr. Hooson

Is not this a pitifully small sum? In view of the dependence of Wales on the older industries and their decline, what do the Government intend to do to remedy the situation, as we shall depend more and more on research resulting from the development of modern, technological industry?

Dr. Bray

The hon. Gentleman is quite right to say that more research and development should be done in Wales. However, he is wrong to associate employment and economic prosperity with locally conducted research. For example, the major expansions of the Rio Tinto Zinc smelter in Anglesey and the Baglan Bay project of BP are based on worldwide research and are of great value to Wales.

Mr. Corfield

Can the Minister confirm that about 35 per cent. of jobs in Wales result from money spent by the Treasury under the Local Employment Acts and that, therefore, the Welsh are getting a fair slice of the cake?

Dr. Bray

I think that development areas generally are benefiting enormously from the development area provisions of this Government. But it is right to say that previous Governments, including the Government of which the hon. Gentleman was a Member, have been biased against development areas by failing to put Government research and development resources and Government defence spending into them.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Is it not absurd to start trying to divide research and development as between Wales and England? When many companies have bases in both London and Cardiff, should we engage in such a fatuous exercise?

Dr. Bray

We certainly need to look at research and development not only in this country but internationally. To be fair, I think that the hon. Gentleman who put the question is quite right in asking that industrial activities in the development areas should be well-paid industrial activities, not those at the most menial end of the industrial spectrum.

Sir G. Nabarro

Speak for England for a change.