HC Deb 06 November 1978 vol 957 cc486-7
11. Mr. Wyn Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what further measures the Government have in mind to reduce unemployment in Wales.

Mr. John Morris

As the Gracious Speech made clear, the Government will continue to pursue every available means of moving to full employment. To this end, a number of measures were announced in the Speech which will be of benefit in Wales as well as the United Kingdom.

Mr. Roberts

In spite of what the Secretary of State has said, he will no doubt be aware that the prospect for employment in Wales is very grim. Is he also aware that many job creation schemes, good, bad and indifferent as they are, are coming to an end? Will he look into the possibility of extending support for the best of these schemes, such as those in Bangor and Conway, which have certainly received extensive local support?

Mr. Morris

We shall always look at a whole range of special measures to ensure that we use the best to further the opportunities for all who are not otherwise in employment. I welcome the hon. Gentleman's support. I would have hoped that he would seek the earliest opportunity to dissociate himself from a weekend speech made by the Shadow Chancellor, the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe), in which he said that he wanted to reduce regional incentives and was against support for the Welsh Development Agency and sought to reduce the restrictions on expansion in the South-East and the Midlands. I know that the hon. Member's constituents in Conway would have welcomed an immediate disavowal of that speech.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Has the Secretary of State had an opportunity to consider proposals to extend the geographical remit of the Development Board for Rural Wales in view of the undoubted success of this board in setting up new enterprises in Mid-Wales?

Mr. Morris

I have regarded it as the prime objective of the Development Board for Rural Wales to concentrate in the first instance on the old five counties. The Welsh Development Agency has a responsibility for the whole of Wales. Such are the problems of the old five counties that I believe that the Development Board for Rural Wales should be allowed to get on with that task for a number of years, leaving the rest of Wales to the Welsh Development Agency.

Mr. Ioan Evans

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to give all possible encouragement to the Manpower Services Commission, which is now deeply involved with the youth opportunities programme? Does he agree that it should make provision for our school leavers? Will my right hon. and learned Friend also consider encouraging the Welsh Development Agency, now that it is getting additional finance, to get itself involved in creating new enterprises?

Mr. Morris

The new youth opportunities programme of the Manpower Services Commission is providing substantial help in tackling the problems of unemployment among young people. I understand that in Wales the Manpower Services Commission remains confident that its Easter guarantee will be met. I give the Welsh Development Agency every encouragement to seek new enterprises and new investment opportunities across Wales. It is a matter of substantial encouragement that, throughout Wales, the agency is now regarded as a formidable force for ensuring greater opportunity of employment.

Mr. Hooson

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the more the Government's income policy is eroded, and the more they have to rely upon controlling the money supply, the bleaker become the prospects for employment in Wales?

Mr. Morris

I have nothing to add on this point to what my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister have said in the course of the debates of the past few days.