HC Deb 02 December 1974 vol 882 cc1094-6
7. Mr. loan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what further action is proposed to encourage and attract new industries to Wales; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Edward Rowlands)

The Government's regional policies, which include a wide range of measures to attract industrial development to the assisted areas, are kept under continuous review and proposals for a Welsh development agency are currently being worked out.

Mr. Ioan Evans

I welcome that reply. I am sure that people in Wales will welcome the setting up of a Welsh development agency. As the previous Government discontinued the building of the new town of Llantrisant, will my hon. Friend give special regard to attracting industry and employment to the heads of the valleys of South Wales? In particular, will he have in mind—as the Welsh Office has recently sanctioned clearance of a large derelict area in the Cynon Valley, between Aberdare and Mountain Ash—attracting new industry there? The area is ideal for industrial development.

Mr. Rowlands

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State said, we do not believe that the Llantrisant New Town decision was negative. It was a positive decision in favour of the heads of the valleys communities. I assure my hon. Friend that all efforts are being made to promote industrial development in all our valleys.

Sir A. Meyer

Is the Minister aware that parts of North-East Wales are in need of new jobs, which they are not getting because they are being discriminated against in being intermediate areas entirely surrounded by full development areas?

Mr. Rowlands

That is a grave criticism. The hon. Gentleman must know that in South Wales we gave development area status to Cardiff, followed by special development area status for much of North West Wales. We have done more than the previous Conservative Government did to encourage industrial development.

Mr. Geraint Howells

What further action is proposed by the Minister to bring nursery factories to mid-Wales, especially to Ceredigion?

Mr. Rowlands

Tremendous effort is already going into the promotion of industrial development in mid-Wales. The Welsh Development Agency and our proposed rural development agency will have an important part to play in it. One of the main inhibiting factors is the lack of housing accommodation in mid-Wales. We must also put that right.

Mr. Fred Evans

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the precarious position of coal reserves in certain regions of the valleys and the employment situation make it imperative that these developments go ahead as quickly as possible? Will he accept the thanks of the people at the northern end of the Rhymney constituency for the effort being made, but will he realise that this effort must be doubled and redoubled to deal with the perilous situation?

Mr. Rowlands

I realise the problem facing communities such as those represented by my hon. Friend, and any scheme such as the Pontlottyn land scheme—a major derelict land reclamation scheme— will receive encouragement from the present Government.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that unemployment in Pembrokeshire is higher now than at any time in the past 10 years? Is it not regrettable that the Government's tax and nationalisation proposals are slowing down development in the Celtic Sea? Is it not even more regrettable that the new advisory committee set up by the Secretary of State met only last week for the first time? Is it not time that more urgency was shown in this matter?

Mr. Rowlands

That statement comes ill from the hon. Gentleman. The oil tax was first proposed by the Conservative Government, and we believe in such taxation. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if anyone is casting a blight over Pembrokeshire and oil development it is the hon. Gentleman rather than anybody else. There is no sign that the oil companies are not showing an interest in the Pembrokeshire coast area.