HC Deb 12 February 1979 vol 962 cc763-6
4. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many advance factories were built in 1978; and how many are being proposed for the future.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Morris)

Sixty two advance factories were completed by the Welsh Development Agency and the Development Board for Rural Wales in 1978. At 31 December 1978 a further 141 units were under construction. Work is already scheduled to start during 1979 on another 151 units. Last week I announced a new programme of factories to be built by the DBRW. I hope shortly to approve a further advance factory programme by the WDA.

Mr. Evans

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that encouraging reply. Will he keep up the programme of building advance factories to meet future demands of industrial developers? Will he have special regard to the general requirements of the valleys of South Wales—the mouths, the heads and the hearts of the valleys of South Wales —and in particular see that advance factories go up again in the Hirwaun industrial estate and the Aberamman lands estate, which is being developed by the WDA?

Mr. Morris

Certainly, the needs of the valleys were very much in mind in all the allocations that have been made. As regards my hon. Friend's special plea for his area, he will know that nine units are under construction in the Cynon Valley travel-to-work area, and a further four units are in the pipeline. I shall bear in mind not only my hon. Friend's needs but those of the valleys all over Wales in a future allocation that I hope to make shortly.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Secretary of State aware that many factories announced 18 months ago for Gwynedd have not yet been started and do not appear to be ready to be started for several months? Is he satisfied that there is a sufficient controlling mechanism over the WDA to ensure that the programmes, once announced, are carried out?

Mr. Morris

I know the hon. Gentleman's concern, which I share. I discussed the matter with the chairman of the WDA only in the past few weeks. I am glad to say that by far the greater part of the factories programme for Gwynedd will be completed before the end of 1979. Already this year eight units at Holyhead have been started. There have been substantial difficulties in the area because of the difficulty of acquiring suitable land.

Mr. Kinnock

Whilst I welcome the efforts of my right hon. and learned Friend and his Department and of the WDA to make provision for advance factories in Wales, can he tell me, in the interests of Wales, whether there is any material evidence to suggest that following the setting up of the Welsh Assembly there would be "better employment opportunities for Wales", in the words of the chairman of the "Yes for Wales" campaign?

Mr. Morris

Matters for the general economy will remain at Westminster and will be the responsibility of the Secretary of State. That is made abundantly clear. But I very much hope that within its block grant the Assembly will so organise itself as to ensure that there will be from that quarter assistance to develop the economy generally as regards housing, roads and matters ancillary to the development of the economy as a whole.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm or deny the report in Saturday's edition of the Western Mail that the Development Board for Rural Wales has no more advance factories to let? Can he say whether the programme of advance factory building is running on time?

Mr. Morris

I am glad to see that the hon. Gentleman shares my interest in the DBRW. As I was announcing and building advance factories over the years, the hon. Gentleman and others were criticising me for building factories and not being able to let them immediately. The DBRW was enormously successful in letting a vast number of advance factories last year. That is why, with that confidence, and knowing that my judgment was justified, I was able to announce a new tranche in excess of 24 factories. I announced a new programme of advance factories for Mid-Wales in the past fortnight, as the hon. Gentleman would know if only he had watched the press.

Mr. Abse

With reference to his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that not one penny more will be given under the block grant to the Welsh Development Agency to create one job? Therefore, why does he not deny the spurious claims being made by the organisation that he supports?

What criticism is my right hon. Friend making of the WDA now, when he speaks of greater efficiency in the disposal of its funds? Is he unable to control or direct the WDA? Is he asking, as usual, for thousands more new civil servants to come into existence because he goes around Wales claiming that he cannot do his own job and control the WDA?


As my hon. Friend knows, I am the last person to claim that I am not able to do my job. I have never suggested that there would be any excess money as a result of the Assembly. If he would do me the courtesy of listening to what I have to say, my hon. Friend would know that what I said was that the economy would be, and would remain, a matter for the Secretary of State and the central Government agencies—that is, the other Secretaries of State. But other matters which appertain to the economy, and are ancillary to it, such as housing, the building of roads and good hospitals, will be for the Assembly, and I hope that in that way it will help the economy.

It is not for me to deny or support everything that is said in the campaign. I have made my position perfectly clear from the start, although my hon. Friend is trying to misquote what I said quite clearly a few minutes ago.

Mr. Speaker

We took a long time over that question. We shall have to move faster.

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