HC Deb 20 December 1971 vol 828 cc1091-3
8. Mr. George Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will meet the Welsh Council to discuss the 16,000 redundancies created in Wales during the past 12 months; and whether he will make a statement.

24. Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he will next meet the Welsh Council.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I understand that the Welsh Council discussed unemployment and the general economic situation at its meeting in Bangor last week and has further work in hand. I would be glad to discuss this and any other matter at any time.

Mr. George Thomas

The Minister has not told us when he proposes to meet the Welsh Council to discuss the biggest single anxiety of the Welsh people. Is it not unprecedented that 16,000 redundancies should have been created in Wales in the past year? Will he show a greater sense of urgency about this?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Redundancies always create problems, and the task we have set ourselves is to create more alternative jobs. The only real solution to this is to step up the rate of economic growth, and this we are pledged to do. As for when I am to meet the Welsh Council, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that no request has yet been received from the Council for a meeting but I understand that the Chairman of the Council will be making arrangements with us.

Mr. Alan Williams

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman not aware that it is only the abnormally mild winter which has prevented the December unemployment figures soaring far higher than the present appalling 50,000 mark in Wales? Does he realise that in February and January it is almost certain that we shall make considerable progress towards the unbelievable figure of 60,000? Is he not aware that this is directly the result of the disastrous policies for which he has been responsible? Will he therefore give the only good news he can give to the people of Wales for 1972 and, in view of the impending Cabinet reshuffle, announce that he has either resigned or been sacked?

Mr. Peter Thomas

What I am aware of is that the foundation for growth has been laid by this Government and that we are now getting out of the difficulties we inherited from the Government of which the hon. Member was a member. The economy is now set for faster and more sustained expansion than at any time since 1964.

Mr. Gower

Can my right hon. and learned Friend explain one strange phenomenon, namely, that while there are undoubtedly many unemployed people, there is also a marked shortage of available personnel in several industries? Will he look into the failure of communications which makes for this strange inconsistency?

Mr. Peter Thomas

It is true that there are shortages in many places, but it is only right to say that the level of unemployment in Wales is too high at the moment, and we are pledged to see that it is reduced.

Mr. William Edwards

Will the Secretary of State confirm that the only jobs which have been brought about by Government policy and which are immediately in prospect in Wales are jobs brought about by the expansion of the Civil Service, particularly by the Treasury? Could he tell us where those jobs will be and how many of them there will be in the next 12 months?

Mr. Peter Thomas

With respect, it is wrong to suppose that no development is taking place in Wales. New projects and major expansions approved or announced in the last three months promise a significant number of jobs—about 3,000.

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