HC Deb 24 May 1971 vol 818 cc22-4
26. Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what has been the percentage increase in redundancies announced in Welsh manufacturing industry from 1st January, 1971, to the latest available date compared with the similar periods in each of the two preceding years.

Mr. Peter Thomas

Redundancies in Welsh manufacturing industry notified to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment's Department amounted to about 8,100 in the period January to April, 1971. This was respectively 195 per cent. and 140 per cent. more than in the same periods in 1970 and 1969.

Mr. Williams

Is the Secretary of State aware that Welsh unemployment is at the moment 16 per cent. higher than it was a year ago and that the figures he has just given, showing a trebling in the rate of increase in redundancies in manufacturing industry, are an absolutely staggering increase and a devastating indictment of a failure of his and his Government's policies and reveal the extent to which they are undermining the very industrial diversity which Wales needs and which the Labour Government built up over six years?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am fully aware of the level of unemployment. It is a level which concerns us all, and one which is too high. One can take some comfort from the fact that the Welsh share of Great Britain's unemployment has fallen steadily over the past year and Wales has stood up better than certain other parts of the country to recent difficulties.

Mr. John Morris

Will the Secretary of State confirm that one of the industrial visits he is making next month is to the aluminium smelter at Anglesey? Was not this smelter built with the aid of investment grants? Will he explain to those he meets how that smelter would have come about without the policy of the Labour Government?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am aware that the R.T.Z. smelter plant at Anglesey was built during the time of the late Government.

Mr. Tugendhat

Was not the R.T.Z. smelter built only as a result of the rejection of the first proposition put up by R.T.Z., which was that it should go ahead in conjunction with the Atomic Energy Authority? Was not the plan it had to adopt during the time of the late Government very much a second best; and has not the industry been twisted by the fact that we had to have three instead of two smelters?

Mr. George Thomas

Is the Secretary of State aware that when he compares the increase in unemployment in Wales with the unemployment in the rest of the United Kingdom he brings comfort to no one? What we want from him are practical proposals for increasing employment in the Principality?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The right hon. Gentleman should take comfort from the fact that when there are difficulties in the United Kingdom as a whole Wales e has been able to withstand them better than she has done in previous years. As regards proposals for stimulating the economy, I suggest that he looks in detail s at the measures which have been e announced by the Government and, in particular, the Budget.