HC Deb 02 March 1981 vol 1000 cc5-6
4. Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will assess the impact of the Welsh Development Agency on employment services in Wales.

Mr. Michael Roberts

The Welsh Development Agency's objectives include the provision, maintenance and safeguarding of employment In Wales and its record in this respect, as in others, is a very sound one.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Is it not correct that some local authorities in Wales, including Gwent and a number of others, are receiving additional funds from the Welsh Development Agency for the setting up of special measures units under the Manpower Services Commission special measures programme? If that is the case, why is it happening only in Wales and in Scotland? Why is it that the Welsh are able to get these funds, which are not available to other parts of the United Kingdom, including the Northern region, where unemployment is considerably higher?

Mr. Roberts

I have no specific responsibility for institutional arrangements in the North of England, but I recall my right hon. Friend Secretary of State for Industry telling the House on 9 February that all the powers held by the Welsh Development Agency are held, although by different agencies, in the North. His judgment was that to provide an extra unit of bureaucracy would confuse rather than increase the prospects for the North.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Will the Minister tell us when he intends that his Department and the Development Board for Rural Wales and the Welsh Development Agency should meet with the GKN group, which announced last week the closure in Mid-Wales of the largest industrial employer in Mid-Wales, with 427 people being made redundant?

Mr. Roberts

I have no information about arrangements for such a meeting but I shall keep in touch with the hon. Member.

Mr. Best

The record of the Welsh Development Agency in advance factory building has been extremely good. Will my hon. Friend agree that perhaps now the WDA should be concentrating more upon its investment function, and particularly on trying to stimulate the expansion of smaller businesses in Wales by the provision of much-needed finance?

Mr. Roberts

The Welsh Development Agency has, of course, three roles. My hon. Friend has referred to two. I think that the agency has the balance right and will continue to develop in both ways.

Mr. Coleman

Will the Minister agree that the answer to the question by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) about the Welsh Development Agency is that there was a Labour Government in office at the time, and that he, the Minister, voted against the Welsh Development Agency? But, turning to the position in Llanelli, and in Llanelli Steel, is the Minister aware that in addition to the 1,000-plus workers in Llanelli who are about to become redundant, there is also a problem in Neath at Baglan Engineering? Can the Minister give any clear information as to what are the companys intentions in respect of that foundry at Neath?

Mr. Roberts

I received a letter from the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Coleman), addressed to my right hon. Friend, only a minute or two before Question Time. I am afraid that I can give the hon. Gentleman no information at the moment, but we shall look into the matter and get in touch with him within 24 hours.