HC Deb 19 July 1971 vol 821 cc1007-9
1. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what extra employment from the surrounding areas in the construction industry is likely from a decision by Her Majesty's Government to go ahead with the Dee Barrage and an expansion of the Shotton Steel Works, respectively.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)

There would certainly be opportunities for increased employment, but it would be premature to attempt any detailed forecast at this stage.

Mr. Tilney

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that both these schemes are of great interest not only to North Wales but to the whole of the Merseyside area, and that if a decision could be made rapidly it would be a great booster of morale throughout the North-West?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend that these schemes are of widespread interest. I can assure him that there will be no undue delay in reaching a decision but, as he will appreciate, consultations with various bodies and authorities are necessary.

Mr. Barry Jones

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman support major expansion at the Shotton Steelworks? Will he come off the fence and say "Yes" or "No"?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The hon. Gentleman talks about major expansion, and I take it that he means expansion further than the development scheme which is already taking place. That is a matter for the British Steel Corporation, and I have no doubt that the Corporation will take into account the claims of Shotton.

18. Mr. George Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will state the names of the organisations he has recently consulted concerning unemployment amongst youths in Wales ; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I have had no specific recent discussions relating solely to unemployment among young people. Youth employment prospects cannot be divorced from more general employment considerations and these figure prominently in many of my discussions with various organisations.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the Secretary of State aware that that complacent reply will annoy everyone in Wales? Is he further aware that this subject has now become one of urgency in that some thousands of our young people will be leaving school this month and large numbers of them will be added to the unemployed? What proposals has he for helping the employment of young people in Wales?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I am certainly not complacent and that youth employment is a matter of great concern to us all. Improved employment prospects for young people will come about only with renewed economic expansion, and the Government have already taken steps to bring that about.

Mr. Kinnock

Does not the Secretary of State recognise that the answers given by him and his colleagues throughout the last year have been to the effect that all employment opportunities will be improved by competition and the Government's policies, so that the statement which we shall hear shortly is an acknowledgement of the failure of him and his right hon. Friends to provide the job opportunities?

Mr. Peter Thomas

As he is an objective man, the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we inherited an extremely difficult economic situation. I am happy to say that the measures introduced by the Government are now taking effect, and I hope that they will lead to a reversal of the trend that we inherited.

21. Mr. Kinnock

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will convene a conference of young Welsh people who have left school in July 1971, or were entitled to leave school in July, 1971, to discuss the prospects for economic development.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am keen to keep in touch with young people and with those guiding their careers, and I shall be addressing the annual meeting of the Institute of Careers Officers in September. But I do not think that a conference on the lines suggested would be helpful.

Mr. Kinnock

As there are very few economic prospects, I am inclined to agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Will he recognise that the Institute of Careers Officers and the children leaving school are not the same people? The important point is to try to convey to youngsters that there is some future in Wales. Does not the Secretary of State consider that there is an emergency employment problem and that special encouragement for employment should be provided for young people in Wales because we are losing a generation?

Mr. Peter Thomas

As I have said, I am obviously concerned about the unemployment of young people. It is an aspect of the wider problem of employment opportunities in Wales generally. The Government, as announcements last week will have made clear, are taking steps to improve the position.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Has the Secretary of State any specific plan whatsoever for enhancing the employment prospects of young people in Wales?

Mr. Peter Thomas

As I have said, the employment of young people in Wales is conditioned by employment opportunities generally. Announcements have been made recently about infrastructure and about the three-year payback on investment allowances. This shows that the Government are anxious to improve the situation.

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