HC Deb 03 July 1978 vol 953 cc16-7
12. Mr. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales, out of the total of 63,000 jobs that he told the Welsh Grand Committee had been provided in Wales by Government special measures over a period of years, what is the maximum that he estimates have been provided at any one time; and how many he calculates are being provided at the moment.

Mr. John Morris

The best estimate available is that in June about 310,000 people in Great Britain were being assisted, out of a cumulative total of about 900,000 people since 1975. Assuming the same proportion in Wales, the equivalent figure is about 21,000.

Mr. Edwards

Is not it misleading for the Secretary of State to talk of the 63,000 jobs that have been saved in Wales over a period of years when it is now clear that only a comparatively small fraction of the total is saved at any one particular moment? Would not it be more honest and informative to give the figures on exactly the same basis as those for unemployment, namely, those on the register as actually employed at any particular moment in time?

Mr. Morris

I do not think it is misleading at all. These figures arise because some schemes start at different dates. People come in through the temporary employment subsidy and then the schemes come to an end. We have given this estimate of the number of jobs that have been saved over a period. It is not helpful to use the word "dishonest". Perhaps the hon. Gentleman might consider axing whoever briefs him because, perhaps on a very good briefing from Conservative Central Office, he seeks to add the number of people unemployed in Wales to the 60,000 jobs that have been saved in order to indicate that there are 150,000 people in Wales without jobs.

Mr. Wigley

Does not the Secretary of State accent that with 90,000 people unemployed in Wales it would be far better to use them to build houses which are needed for people on council house waiting lists, to improve the 107,000 houses which are unfit and to build the many miles of motorway which are needed in Wales rather than paying them about £80 a week on average, taking all the benefits together, for staying on the dole?

Mr. Morris

I would be the first to agree with the hon. Gentleman that one would have hoped that more houses would have been built in Wales in the last two years. Increased resources were made available over a two-year period—significant amounts of money were made available—but regrettably and unhappily those resources were not taken up. If they had been, they would have had an effect on unemployment.