HC Deb 06 December 1976 vol 922 cc1-3
1. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will now publish an economic plan for Wales as a guideline for the work of the Welsh Development Agency and other bodies concerned with the economic development of Wales.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Morris)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave him on 21st June. The information they require is already available to these bodies.

Mr. Wigley

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that a report to come out next Wednesday from the Development Corporation is likely to make his reply look pedestrian and totally unresponsive to the needs of Wales? Is he aware of the general demand in Wales for a national economic development plan, manifested in evidence to his Office by such bodies as the Town and Country Planning Association and the South Glamorgan County Council? Does he realise that if we are to attract investment from overseas we must have a strategic industrial development plan of this sort? Does not his answer mean that he is stubborn, ignorant or impotent in this matter?

Mr. Morris

I shall not trade insults with the hon. Gentleman. I hope that the House will accept that I try not to be ignorant or stupid, or to be what the hon. Gentleman suggested with his third adjective. There has been some disputation in the Press about the publication of plans. I have less confidence in plans that the hon. Gentleman does. I had cause to examine the plan put up by the Welsh National Party in the early part of this year. I think that in the course of my replies that plan—certainly the first one put forward—was completely demolished.

Mr. Anderson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that there is already a planning structure and a planning necessity at local authority level? What basis of realism can there be for the local authority plans unless there is an attempt at least to co-ordinate them on an all-Wales basis?

Mr. Morris

I accept what my hon. Friend says. The local authorities are getting on with their structure plans. I am told that any grandiose plan at this stage would be unnecessary for the purpose of preparing plans and would hold up the process upon which the authorities are engaged. But obviously one is constantly updating not plans but policies. Hence the special development area status for North-West Wales, development area status for part of South-East Wales, the setting up of two major agencies, and the special plans we have made for Ebbw Vale. We are considering the problem of North-East Wales in the light of the Courtaulds closure.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Why on earth should anyone want an economic plan from this Government when all they have done so far is to produce empty factories, falling production, rising unemployment and fewer resources for the social services?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman is aware how miserably and lamentably his Government fell down in 1973. When factories were urgently needed in Wales, they cut factory building. We have doubled the number of factories built in Wales.

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