HC Deb 02 March 1981 vol 1000 cc4-5
3. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest number of unemployed persons in Wales, seasonally adjusted and including young persons, and expressed as a percentage of the population; what were the figures for May 1979; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Michael Roberts)

The numbers unemployed, seasonally adjusted, excluding school leavers under the age of 18 —but including other young people—in February 1981 and May 1979 were 136,800 and 81,300 respectively. As a proportion of the employee population the total represented 12.6 per cent. and 7.5 per cent. respectively.

Mr. Jones

In view of those desperately serious figures will the Minister assure us that when the Secretary of State returns from Japan he will make a report about his visit with particular reference to inward investment and giving an up-to-date view of the Nissan-Datsun project? On the latter, does the Minister accept the potential of my constituency as a site for Nissan-Datsun, given the nearness of RTZ's aluminium smelter and Ferodo's Caernarvon factory, which should be factors in its favour? May I have an assurance that the Government will keep in mind the truly horrendous unemployment figures in my constituency and will locate some major industry in the area very soon?

Mr. Roberts

The question of a statement is one for my right hon. Friend. We all share concern about the unemployment figures and the human suffering that is involved throughout the Principality. We are aware of the high level of unemployment in the Shotton area. Nissan will not be directed as to where it should go but will make its own choice of location. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is involved in a mission to Japan, and he has met representatives of the Nissan company, although he has not visited it. He told the company that there were suitable sites in Wales and that it would be warmly welcomed to the Principality if it chose to go there. I am sure that that welcome covers the Shotton area. My right hon. Friend emphasised that he was speaking as a United Kingdom Minister and that the same level of help and co-operation would be found in other regions.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions and answers seem to me to be much longer today. I know that we have missed St. David's Day, but the questions and answers have been very long.

Sir Anthony Meyer

I fully support the efforts of the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mr. Jones) to attract Nissan investment to his constituency. However, is not the principal attraction of Wales, or the United Kingdom generally, as a place for Nissan to invest the fact that it will provide access to the whole of the European market? Is not that advantage gravely prejudiced by threats from the Labour Party to take us out of the EEC?

Mr. Roberts

There is no certainty that the Nissan company will set up in the United Kingdom. It is engaged in a feasibility study. It is certain, however, that it would not choose to establish investment in an area outside the EEC. The same consideration applied to the Ford motor company when it set up its engine works at Waterton.

Mr. Alan Williams

Is not the terrifying reality that 1,000 jobs are disappearing in Wales every week—200 every working day? Is it not a measure of the massive scale of the Government-induced disaster in Wales that even if we succeed in securing the Nissan car project that will merely offset four weeks of the Government's job destruction, and that it will not do that until the mid-1980s? What do the Government intend to do now—not in the mid-1980s—for the 146,000 people who are unemployed in Wales?

Mr. Roberts

There is no point in speculating about the Nissan company.

We inherited what was, to say the least, an unenviable position in the steelworks which were grossly overmanned and faced an inevitable number of redundancies. We are seeking to develop the infrastructure with the building of advanced factories so that we shall be ready to take advantage of the upturn in the economy when it comes.