HC Deb 28 October 1975 vol 898 cc1273-5
2. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many man- months of additional employment for the coming winter will be created in Wales as a result of the Government's recent announcements on this matter.

Mr. Foot

I regret that it is not possible to make the estimate desired by the hon. Member. The answer must depend on whether those individuals, firms or other organisations eligible to benefit under, or make use of, the various schemes, choose to do so.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Secretary of State aware that deep regret will be felt that there is not enough appreciation of the progress of these schemes to estimate the effect in Wales? Does he accept that if Wales obtained 10 per cent. of the jobs created by the Manpower Services Commission, it would amount to 1,500 jobs, which would give work to only one out of every 50 unemployed persons in Wales? Is he not deeply concerned that other Government policies may be creating unemployment at a faster rate than jobs are being provided by the various schemes now going on?

Mr. Foot

I do not accept the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. All the policies of the Government are directed towards bringing down unemployment; that includes the attack on inflation, which we believe to be an essential part of our policies. The measures to which the hon. Gentleman referred may not have a major effect on the level of unemployment, but the hon. Gentleman should not be so pessimistic as to say that they do not have any effect. The Gwynedd County Council is in contact with the Manpower Services Commission about participating in a job creation project. I am glad that the main contract for the dynamic hydro-electric scheme in the hon. Member's constituency is going forward. I am sure that he will welcome that development.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one problem facing Wales, as well as other parts of the United Kingdom, is the lack of investment in manufacturing industry? Will he discuss with his colleagues as soon as possible the setting up of the National Enterprise Board and the Welsh Development Agency?

Mr. Foot

I agree that that is one factor which, over the years, has contributed to the difficulties of the present situation in Wales, as elsewhere. The sooner we can get the National Enterprise Board, planning agreements, and the Welsh Development Agency in full operation, the better.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

On the subject of youth employment, will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Secretary of State for Education and Science to provide additional places and courses at technical colleges to cope with the extraordinary demand for technical college places—a demand which is not being met by the places which are available at the moment?

Mr. Foot

Yes. I shall continue to have discussions with my right hon. Friend. Again, I am not complacent about the situation. However, the appallingly high figure of unemployment among school leavers has been considerably reduced during the last few months. Indeed, in the last few weeks the figure has come down faster still, due partly to measures introduced by the Government.