HC Deb 12 November 1973 vol 864 cc1-3
1. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what further consultations he has had with the British Steel Corporation regarding proposed redundancies in the steel industry in Wales.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)

I maintain my close and regular contact with the British Steel Corporation on all aspects of the steel industry in Wales.

Mr. Jones

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman promise to make a last-ditch stand in the Cabinet, in an effort to save the 6,000 jobs which are due for the axe at Shotton? Does he not feel ashamed of his Government's willingness to stop so many jobs and prospects at a time of international and national steel shortage? Also, does he not consider it crazy and irresponsible to plan to axe 9,000 job opportunities in the Shotton area at a time when the local council has indicated that its estimate of 20,000 jobs by 1981 is a conservative one?

Mr. Thomas

First, I certainly cannot accept the figures that were mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. As he knows, the Government have accepted the strategy of the British Steel Corporation and many of the matters to which he referred are now matters for the corporation. He also knows that the Government have accepted their responsibility for dealing with the social consequences of that strategy. The task force has reported in respect of the area of Shotton and the Government will be making their announcements quickly. As I have told the hon. Gentleman, the task force has taken full account of the additional job losses that are likely to arise in other related industries and they have framed their recommendations accordingly.

Sir A. Meyer

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the importance of a very early announcement by the British Steel Corporation of a specific sum to be invested in the finishing side at Shotton? Without some specific assurance, the drift of people away from Shotton will assume very alarming proportions.

Mr. Thomas

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. I think it is generally known that the British Steel Corporation is considering at this moment a major investment in the finishing end at Shotton.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Is it not becoming apparent to the Secretary of State that in order to obtain a senior managerial position with the British Steel Corporation to carry out the vast redundancy programme in Wales one has had to spend a long period of time in Sheffield? Does this mean that there is a scarcity of managerial talent in Wales? If that is the case, what is the right hon. and learned Gentleman doing about it?

Mr. Thomas

Appointments to and within the British Steel Corporation are matters for the corporation itself, as the hon. Gentleman must have appreciated when he supported its setting up.

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