HC Deb 21 June 1976 vol 913 cc1086-8
13. Mr. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will ask the Welsh Development Agency to publish an interim report on the economic condition of Wales.

Mr. John Morris

No, Sir. This is not an appropriate task for the agency.

Mr. Edwards

Would not the agency, instead of publishing glossy brochures on derelict land clearance carried out before it was set up, be better engaged in reporting on the 25 empty Government factories in Wales, the 73,500 out of work and the sharpest fall in industrial production of any country in the West, and saying what it proposes to do about that?

Mr. Morris

If the hon. Gentleman thought that that was a task for the Welsh Development Agency, he might have seen fit to put down an amendment in Committee. He never thought that at the time.

Mr. Roderick

Would my right hon. and learned Friend consider it better for the agency to publish an interim report on its activities during this period and show what assistance it gave and what co-operation it had from private industry?

Mr. Morris

That is a much more important matter, and I am confident that when the agency has been in operation for a year and makes its report it will have a great deal to show for its activities.

Mr. Wigley

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in Committee on the Welsh Development Agency Bill I put down an amendment to that effect, and therefore may be justified in asking how he can expect the agency to get a coherent strategy together when it is acting in a vacuum and does not have an economic plan? Not only did it not have one in the past; it does not have one for the future. The agency is playing blind man's buff, and this will not provide an answer to a serious economic problem.

Mr. Morris

The agency would be playing blind man's buff if it were to rely on the kind of report submitted to me by the hon. Gentleman's party. That report was riddled with inaccuracies, and Economic Situation I have shown it to be false.

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