HC Deb 24 January 1977 vol 924 cc946-7
12. Mr. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will ask the Welsh Council to report on the economic and employment effects of defence establishments in each of the Welsh counties.

Mr. John Morris

No, Sir. The Government are fully aware of these matters and I do not consider it necessary to ask the Welsh Council to report.

Mr. Edwards

At a time when defence cuts are being made and when Plaid Cymru is advocating the advantages of even more drastic cuts on the ground that since such expenditure is low in Wales the cuts will therefore have little effect on the Welsh economy, would it not be useful to do as I suggest? Apart from the defence implications, would not such cuts as Plaid Cymru advocates have a disastrous effect on employment and the economic standards of constituencies such as Pembrokeshire and Anglesey?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman mentioned Pembrokeshire. I am not aware of any immediate redundancies in defence establishments in his constituency. The location of defence establishments is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, but I am fully consulted on these matters.

Mr. Wigley

In view of the cut-backs in defence expenditure that are taking place and the even greater cut-backs that some Opposition Members and even more Labour Members want to see in future, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the transferring of defence jobs is not the best way of building employment prospects in Wales? Does he agree that the £39 million that was mentioned a short while ago would be better spent on providing manufacturing industry?

Mr. Morris

I am always interested in the arguments of the hon. Gentleman, and I should like him and his hon. Friends at their convenience to particularise where in Wales they would like to see defence cuts, whether they be in Aberporth, in Pendine, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Thomas), in Anglesey, or elsewhere. I want to see varied employment for the people of Wales. For far too long we have been unduly dependent on heavy industry. They are important industries, but it is a part of Government policy to ensure that major establishments are decentralised to Wales. I am proud of the part that I have played in ensuring that some of them come to Wales.