HC Deb 21 April 1980 vol 983 cc14-6
10. Mr. Anderson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what further measures he is considering to meet the jobs crisis in West Glamorgan.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

I have already announced a major programme of industrial site preparation and advance factory building in West Glamorgan, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry is reviewing the assisted area grading of the areas affected by job losses at Port Talbot.

Mr. Anderson

Reviewing, reviewing and reviewing. For how long will the Govment dally and fiddle while the economies of the steel areas burn? Were we not promised last December that a decision on regional development status would be made by the end of January? All the key factors are known. The position is becoming worse and worse. What is the reason for the delay?

Mr. Edwards

All the factors are not known, because agreements have not yet been reached between the British Steel Corporation and the unions. I have repeatedly made clear that we shall announce decisions on regrading very quickly after firm decisions have been made about the future of Port Talbot and Llanwern.

Mr. Alan Williams

I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to take account of the decision in the British Steel Corporation, and I would have some sympathy if that were the only possible tragedy confronting West Glamorgan. We are already facing redundancies at Louis Marx and——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he must ask a question. The right hon. Gentleman is giving information.

Mr. Williams

As long as there is an interrogative in the sentence, it constitutes a question. Is he aware——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman must ask a question.

Mr. Williams

As I was saying, is the right hon. Gentleman aware of job losses apart from those in the steel industry? Is he aware that jobs have been lost among such long-standing employers as Louis Marks and Mettoy in Swansea and that there is a risk to jobs in Metal Box at Neath? Will he make an immediate declaration that West Glamorgan will be given special development area status?

Mr. Edwards

I am aware of other job losses, but I am also aware that current unemployment levels in the area do not justify special development area status. I am sure that it would be in the interests of the right hon. Gentleman's constituents if all the relevant facts were made available before that decision is taken.

Mr. Best

Is my right hon. Friend aware that as a result of the steel strike the average loss per worker was about £1,300? Does he not agree that nobody wins in a strike, particularly one of such magnitude and duration? Does he not also agree that all the Opposition's protestations about the day of action merely show that they have utterly separated themselves from reality? Is there not now a new understanding that one does not preserve jobs by going on strike?

Mr. Edwards

More tragic than the financial loss is the fact that the strike weakened the BSC even further and made additional job losses more likely. Every strike threatens jobs and that is why it is so wrong and wicked that the right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) should encourage them.