HC Deb 21 February 1972 vol 831 cc880-1
13. Mr. Elystan Morgan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what facilities are available to his Department to estimate the number of prospective job opportunities in Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

This is done by the Welsh Planning Board which is chaired by one of my officials and on which all departments in Wales concerned with employment are represented.

Mr. Morgan

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that his continued failure to give a reasonable amount of information concerning job opportunities is proving very frustrating for Welsh Members in seeking to analyse the value of certain Government policies? Is he saying that such studies are not made? Or is it that he has not the candour to tell the House exactly what the evaluations are?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I give the House such information as is available to me. I am satisfied that the information available to me, both from my own Department and from the other Departments concerned, enables me to have regard to up-to-date assessments of the current employment situation and future prospects, and, whenever I am asked, I give hon. Members and the House the information I have.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the Secretary of State bear in mind that if the present rate of decline of jobs in prospect continues the Department will not need a computer but merely the facility of the fingers of two hands to count the jobs in prospect? How does he explain the fact that in 1971, the first full year of the new Conservative Government, new industry coming to Wales was merely 40 per cent. of that in 1969, the last full year of the Labour Government?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The low figure for jobs in prospect during that time has reflected the unwillingness of industrialists, by reason of what had happened in the previous two or three years, to commit themselves to long-term investment. This is a position which we are seeking to put right.