HC Deb 08 May 1969 vol 783 cc636-7
11. Mr. Gwynfor Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs in view of the estimate in "The Task Ahead" that the reduction of regional disparities will be least in Wales, what plans he has to improve the Welsh economic prospects.

Mr. Urwin

In his statement on the Hunt Report on 24th April, my right hon. Friend announced the Government's decision to include South-East Wales as one of the intermediate areas to benefit from measures of assistance.—[Vol. 782, c. 668–72.]

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the only English regions comparable with Wales in this invidious situation is the North-East but that although the situation in Wales is actually far worse than in the North-East of England, about twice as much money has been spent on incentives to industry to go to the North-East as has been spent in Wales for the same purpose?

Mr. Urwin

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman has said. I remind him that, in addition to the amount of money to which I have just referred as being invested last year, Government effort to diversify industry in Wales to get away from Welsh dependence on declining industries has resulted in over 100 new firms going there since 1964 and in the expansion of over 600. Even more interesting is that expansion in manufacturing industry was two and a half times greater in Wales in 1968 than in Britain as a whole.

Mr. Roy Hughes

With regard to the Welsh economic prospects, does my hon. Friend appreciate that his right hon. Friend's announcement on 24th April concerning the grey areas was well received in those affected parts of South-East Wales? Will he now give the House an assurance that he will take early steps to implement these proposals?

Mr. Urwin

It has been the intention of Government, both before and after the Hunt Committee's Report, to effect a far better distribution of economic development and growth, and we shall continue with this policy.