HC Deb 08 November 1971 vol 825 cc622-3
9. Mr. Kinnock

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has for encouraging the development of labour-intensive industries in Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas:

The wide array of economic and fiscal measures taken by the Government in the past year is designed to encourage industrial development of all kinds in Wales. I have every expectation that labour-intensive industries will take their share in this development.

Mr. Kinnock:

Is this "wide array" responsible for the 21,000 redundancies in Wales in the last 12 months? Is it the factor most responsible for 1,000 more boys and girls in Wales being unemployed than there were three years ago? After telling us 12 months ago that he was interested in labour-intensive industries, will he not get down to doing something about it?

Mr. Thomas:

It is not responsible for the figures mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. The responsibility lies in large measure with the activities undertaken before we got into Government 18 months ago. Fortunately, there are indications that the measures which have been taken by this Government are beginning to take effect. In the past four months major new developments and expansions have been approved or announced which will eventually provide about 3,000 jobs in Wales.

Sir A. Meyer:

Will my right hon. and learned Friend say how many additional jobs in Wales were created by the previous Government?

Mr. Thomas:

I cannot give that answer without notice, but I will write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. George Thomas:

Is the Minister aware that when he took over responsibility he inherited 32,000 jobs in the pipeline, that that figure has been reduced by a half and that his policies are creating havoc in Wales? Why is he not man enough after nearly 18 months in office to take responsibility for the result of his own policies?

Mr. Thomas:

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that it takes some time for any Government action to take effect, and that the situation we faced in Wales in 1970 and at the beginning of 1971 was directly attributable to action taken by the right hon. Gentleman's Government.

Mr. Roy Hughes:

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that new labour-intensive industries are vitally necessary for Wales? Is he aware that, if Britain goes into the Common Market the British Steel Corporation is ready to embark on a multi-million pound steel complex on the Continent on a green-field site and does he think that this would be beneficial to employment prospects in Wales?

Mr. Thomas:

I am certainly not aware of what the hon. Gentleman said in the last part of his supplementary question. I agree with him that labour-intensive industries are certainly necessary, but I am sure he will not overlook Wales' need for modern technological industry. What we need is a balance.