HC Deb 19 May 1975 vol 892 cc992-3
11. Mr. Roderick

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the progress that is being made on the implementation of the Beswick Report in relation to the Heads of the Valleys.

Mr. John Morris

Real progress is being made in implementing the measures outlined in Lord Beswick's report for tackling the problems of the Ebbw Vale area. I am directly involved in this task through the special working group of key representatives of the Departments and authorities concerned, and the British Steel Corporation.

There have already been tangible results in establishing advance factory programmes, derelict land clearance and the preparations of industrial sites, all of which have been the subject of announcements I have recently made.

Mr. Roderick

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that although a difficult struggle has been going on in the Ebbw Vale area for the acceptance of the Beswick timetable, new proposals have been made by the British Steel Corporation which are totally unacceptable in that area? Will he join us in pressing his colleagues in the Government that if the talks break down today or lead to deadlock the Government will intervene, as Ebbw Vale will suffer sufficiently under the Beswick timetable without being asked to suffer more?

Mr. Morris

I am deeply aware of the problems in Ebbw Vale. I was there this weekend chairing a joint meeting of all the interested parties, and I or my officials are there regularly. Discussions are proceeding within the industry on the BSC proposals—which are only proposals—and a meeting is taking place today between the BSC and the unions.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give a categorical assurance that there will be no redundancies until alternative employment is provided for the men involved?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman is fully aware that that is what I am seeking to do. I have outlined a programme to the community for the clearing of land, the preparation of sites, the provision of infrastructure by way of water and sewerage and the building of advance factories to provide the alternative employment which I passionately regard as being of such importance in this area.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Will my right hon. and learned Friend also bear in mind that a sharp rundown at Shotton would have serious repercussions not only in Clwyd but throughout the whole of North Wales where unemployment is at an unacceptably high level? Will he and his right hon. Friends give careful consideration to the substantial and impressive document recently produced by Clwyd County Council and other bodies in the area which provides certain alternatives which should be carefully considered by my right hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry?

Mr. Morris

As my right hon. Friend is fully aware, any rundown in any part of the steel industry would create major problems. That is why I can give my right hon. Friend the assurance that documents or representations emanating from any part of the steel industry will be carefully considered by the Government.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Will the Minister say what is the estimated number of workers in Wales in the steel industry who will be made redundant within the next 12 months?

Mr. Morris

It is not possible to give such an estimate. Discussions are taking place today about certain proposals from the British Steel Corporation. We are also conducting a strategic review into the long-term proposals of the British steel industry. The hon. Gentleman will know the serious problems of production and the fall in the market throughout the steel industry, in particular in the strip mill division.

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