HC Deb 22 November 1982 vol 32 cc572-3
14. Mr. Hudson Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the current level of unemployment in Wales; what percentage increase this represents since the same time in 1981; and what are the corresponding figures for mid-Glamorgan.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

On 14 October 1982 unemployment in Wales totalled 185,086, an increase of 8.8 per cent. since October 1981. The corresponding figure for mid-Glamorgan was 35,698, an increase of 10.4 per cent.

Mr. Hudson Davies

Will the Secretary of State concede that the true seriousness of the position is illustrated by the fact that in Wales as a whole there are 31 unemployed people for each vacancy? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in mid-Glamorgan there are 44 people unemployed for each vacancy? Is he further aware that in the Bargoed travel-to-work area in my constituency no fewer than 70 people are hunting for each vacant job? Does not that serious problem call for urgent and massive, not cosmetic, action? Has the Minister plans for such massive steps?

Mr. Edwards

I welcome two members of the SDP to the House this afternoon, in the absence of five-sixths of the Welsh parliamentary Labour Party, to ask about unemployment. We allocated a record number of new factories in Wales last year. This year already the acreage is up on last year. We are almost achieving 1½ million sq. ft. of new allocated floor space.

Mr. Ray Powell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Labour Members walked out in disgust at hearing the Secretary of State.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Will the Minister examine the evidence submitted by the South Wales branch of the National Union of Mineworkers to the Select Committee? Is he aware that it stated that extra investment in the South Wales pits was imperative, particularly in the Phurnacite plant in my constituency? Is there any truth in the rumour that there may soon be redundancies at that plant?

Mr. Edwards

That is a decision for the National Coal Board, as the hon. Gentleman will be aware, because we made our position clear about that plant. The hon. Gentleman also knows that there is a conflict between the environmental and manufacturing considerations, which causes difficulties.

Mr. Alec Jones

Whichever figures the Secretary of State cares to use—whether the actual numbers unemployed, the seasonally adjusted figures, the new fiddled figures or the percentages—he cannot dodge the fact that since he has been responsible for Wales unemployment in the Principality has more than doubled. Does that not prove his impotence, because, even in Pembroke docks, in his area, unemployment is 29.5 per cent. and the highest in Wales? Does it not also show that the Government are bankrupt of ideas and have no intention of reducing unemployment in Wales?

Mr. Edwards

At least I do not go before the House and the country with a spurious promise that one can reduce unemployment to 1 million over a period. The right hon. Gentleman knows that he does not have even the beginnings of an idea of how that can be done.