HC Deb 01 May 1972 vol 836 cc20-1
26. Mr. Elystan Morgan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make an early Ministerial broadcast on the problems facing Wales in 1972 and the Government's plans for dealing with them.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I have no plans to make a Ministerial broadcast as such, but I have accepted an invitation to be interviewed on BBC Wales TV next month, when no doubt there will be occasion to discuss Government policies in Wales.

Mr. Morgan

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we are not entirely surprised that he has not an incandescent enthusiasm for such an exercise? Does not he appreciate that the problems of Wales are far greater in magnitude than he seems to indicate, and that the number of new jobs necessary is more by many tens of thousands than at the time of publication of "Wales: The Way Ahead "? Is he prepared to use every energy and artifice in Cabinet to get long-term contracts placed by Government Departments for firms in those unattractive areas of Wales which would not otherwise get development by way of private enterprise?

Mr. Thomas

The last part of that supplementary question was a little different from the Question which the hon. Gentleman asked about a Ministerial broadcast. In the course of the broadcast I hope to be able to point out the wide range of measures already taken by the Government which undoubtedly will be making Wales a far better place to live in.

Mr. Gwynoro Jones

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman devote a few minutes of the broadcast to telling the people of Wales why the Government first abandoned investment grants and then reintroduced them 18 months later, in the meantime having caused thousands of people in Wales to be needlessly unemployed or needlessly redundant?

Mr. Thomas

It is clear that the hon. Gentleman has never understood the measures which have been taken by the Government. The grants they introduced recently are confined to the development areas. The grants which were given by the last Government, in the absence of any free depreciation, were of general application. In fact, far more money was spent in grants outside the development areas than within them. What we have done is to have free depreciation, tax allowances and grants which are linked not only to the development areas but also to profitability, with a bigger differential than ever before.