HC Deb 03 July 1978 vol 953 cc10-1
7. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps have been taken during the past four years by his Department or by agencies responsible to him to provide employment in the advance factories which are standing empty in the Arfon and Dwyfor areas.

Mr. John Morris

My Department and the Welsh Development Agency do all they can, through advertising and personal contact, to impress on industrialists the advantages of the North Wales special development area, and of the four advance factories in Arfon and Dwyfor which are at present standing empty.

Mr. Wigley

But would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that these factories have been standing empty for far too long, and that those initiatives which have shown any enterprise in them have come mainly from local enterprises, county, borough and district councils and not from the Welsh Development Agency? In the circumstances, will be instruct the agency to attract industry to this area of high unemployment?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not within the power of the agency to direct industry. The hon. Gentleman referred to empty factories. One at Arfon and one at Dwyfor have been brought to the attention of 126 industrialists and have been visited by seven. One of the factories is subject to two applications, which are being considered. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased that the large adcance factory at Blaenau Ffestiniog and two units at Penrhyndeudraeth in Gwynedd have recently been allocated after a great deal of effort, going back, certainly as far as the Blaenau Ffestiniog factory is concerned, for many years.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Will my right hon. and learned Friend continue the policy of building advance factories prior to requirement, because sometimes incoming industrialists want factories immediately? Will he tell the WDA that that is a method of attracting a great deal of industry into Wales at a time of serious world recession?

Mr. Morris

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. There has been an enormous increase in lettings. As I told the Welsh Grand Committee only last Wednesday, the rate is averaging about four a week. I will certainly continue the programme of building advance factories. More than 400 have been announced, and the programme will be continued because they are needed. The availability of advance factories is one of the most significant factors for industrialists when deciding whether to move to a certain area.