HC Deb 23 February 1976 vol 906 cc16-7
14. Mr. Anderson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what effect recent Government measures introduced to alleviate unemployment are having in Wales.

Mr. John Morris

Wales has already obtained substantial benefits from the series of measures announced since April 1975. One hundred and eighty-four projects have been recommended under the Job Creation Scheme, providing a total of 1,885 jobs; the Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme has saved 1,414 jobs to date; 1,670 school leavers have been taken on by firms benefiting under the Recruitment Subsidy Scheme; £3¼ million has been allocated for advance factory building, and an additional £6½ million has been made available for housing improvements.

Mr. Anderson

Encouraging as those figures are, is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that many of us would wish they were geared more to the specific regional problems within Wales? Can he anticipate what effect the measures announced the week before last are likely to have in the Principality?

Mr. Morris

Two parts of these proposals are of particular importance to Wales. First, the extension of the temporary employment subsidy to include redundancies of 10 or more workers and its extension from six months to 12 months will be of particular significance in Wales, because we have a large proportion of small industrial concerns. Secondly, the £4 million help given to the construction industry—making a total of £6½ million since April 1975—will be of particular value to the housing industry and to the construction industry generally.

Sir Raymond Gower

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the present extraordinarily high level of unemployment in Wales is partly due to the fact that for a long time between the last two General Elections his Government allowed inflation to run almost unhindered?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman knows that that is a ridiculous proposition, which has been paraded in this House time and again. We are anxious to bring down the unacceptably high level of unemployment at the earliest possible opportunity, and the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will go some way towards dealing with the situation.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the Government's additional provision of training and retraining in Wales is also very important in this context? Does he hold out any hope of additional training facilities in Gwynedd, where young people have to travel very long distances to obtain adequate training?

Mr. Morris

Training is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, and I know that he is aware of the problems. I met the Confederation of Engineering Workers for the whole of North Wales during the recess and listened to their observations. I have ensured that my right hon. Friend is fully aware of the needs of North Wales as a whole, and Gwynedd in particular.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that one of the most profound causes of unemployment in Wales is heavy company taxation? Will he use his influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer not only in this direction but also to reduce the 25 per cent. rate of VAT, which is hitting employment in the domestic electrical appliances industry?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman knows that that is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.