HC Deb 18 February 1980 vol 979 cc16-7
13. Mr. Alan Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when last he met the representatives of the nationalised industries in Wales.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

I met the BSC Welsh division managing director and the NCB area director in separate meetings on 20 November.

Mr. Williams

Has the right hon. Gentleman discussed with representatives of the Post Office in Wales the threat of the closure of hundreds of sub-post offices throughout the Principality as a result of the proposition put forward by the Government for the payment of pensions? Is he aware that this is causing deep alarm to pensioners and the disabled? Will he, as a matter of urgency, have discussions with those who represent the disabled and pensioners to establish precisely what will be the effect of these proposals if they go ahead?

Mr. Edwards

We have already dealt with this matter today. I have made it clear that some of the fears are based on a total misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the proposals. The matter will be debated tomorrow, and the facts can then be clearly established.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Will my right hon. Friend use any forthcoming meetings that he may have with the heads of nationalised industries in Wales to get across to them and to the public the message that though taxpayers' money may be available for public investment in nationalised industries, under no circumstances will it be available to finance wage increases which are unmatched by productivity?

Mr. Edwards

The Government have made their position on that matter abundantly plain.

Mr. Barry Jones

Will the Secretary of State urge a rethink by his Cabinet colleagues and the British Steel Corporation of the dangerously low steel target of 15 million tonnes a year? For an industrial nation and a strategic industry, that is very worrying. Will he urge his Cabinet colleagues to look at the ruinous number of foreign cars being imported, bearing in mind that such imports destroy the jobs of British steel workers?

Mr. Edwards

Under the present plans there is a good deal of spare capacity for an increase if British Steel can sell the product. The problem is the corporation's inability to sell the steel. Certainly it is not in the interests of the British motor car industry, which faces its own difficulties, that BSC continues to be uneconomic and uncompetitive.

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