HC Deb 01 May 1972 vol 836 cc23-4
29. Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the prospects for the Welsh economy since the Budget; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Thomas

The Welsh Council and others have told me that they welcome the measures announced in the Budget and in the White Paper "Industrial and Regional Development ".

Mr. Williams

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman read the outrageous article in last Wednesday's Western Mail by his own Parliamentary Private Secretary and headed Million jobless figure is not as grim as it looks ", a proposition which would have made even Dr. Goebbels blush? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree with his hon. Friend? Was the article written in the light of a Government brief presented to the hon. Gentleman? Is it not an attempt to prepare the people of Wales for the fact that next winter we shall have an appallingly high level of unemployment—just as we had this winter?

Mr. Thomas

The article was not only excellent but extremely readable and was much appreciated by people who wish to see in detail what these figures represent. For instance, the hon. Gentleman has referred to recent unemployment figures. The April figure was significantly distorted by the presence of 2,500 students who were temporarily on the unemployment register.

Mr. Kinnock

Following that article, did the right hon. and learned Gentleman read the magnificent letter written by the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), which appeared on Friday morning and which agreed that there was a need for deeper analysis of the unemployment problem but cautioned that the Government should take into account the vast army of unemployed who do not now appear on the register? When is he going to do something about this?

Mr. Thomas

That goes to show how extremely interesting this matter is. One need to go into the figures to find out where the truth lies. I have not read the hon. Gentleman's letter because I was in North Wales on Friday and did not get a copy a the Western Mail. I will make sure that I get one when I return to my office.