HC Deb 08 November 1971 vol 825 cc628-9
18. Mr. John

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he is satisfied with the arrangements under which the Welsh Office receives information as to impending factory closures and redundancies in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Thomas:

Employers are not required to notify the Welsh Office of closures and redundancies, but there are arrangements for information, notified to the Department of Employment, to be conveyed to the Welsh Office. These arrangements work well, but in almost all cases Departments could do with fuller and earlier notice.

Mr. John:

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that admission, but is not the impression abroad that the Welsh Office is utterly surprised every time there is a major closure or declaration of redundancies in Wales? If we are to have the jobs of the type required and when and where they are necessary, is not much more information desirable so that the Welsh Office may at last get down to the work of providing jobs instead of just bemoaning their loss?

Mr. Thomas:

Responsibility for providing jobs does not rest with the Welsh Office. My officials are in daily contact with the Department of Employment. We receive formal notice of most impending redundancies, but occasionally we do not, and that is why I said that we could do with fuller and earlier notice; some have not been notified to the Department of Employment or to us.

Mr. Fred Evans:

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman take steps to overhaul this machinery, which, after all, is in the hands of his Government, and look at situations like that which arose two months ago in the Caerphilly constituency, where the Monocontainers factory practically closed overnight, throwing the entire labour force on the market? Despite this, the company is still in occupation of the factory, having moved its machines to somewhere else in the country, and is using the premises virtually as a store house or warehouse. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that this is the way to get labour-intensive industry to Wales, does not he think that the word "scandal" which has been bandied about today is applicable? If the right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot do something about it and about the tragedy of unemployment in such areas, will he reorganise the Welsh Office by organising himself out of his job very quickly?

Mr. Thomas:

I know to what the hon. Gentleman is referring. It is clear that he does not understand the precise responsibilities of the Welsh Office in these matters. Questions about the precise legal obligations of employers should he addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.