HC Deb 18 October 1982 vol 29 cc4-5
5. Mr. Geraint Howells

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied with the present measures being taken to tackle unemployment in Wales.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

I will not be satisfied until the measures taken to improve the economy have led to a substantial fall in the numbers unemployed in Wales.

Mr. Howells

Will the Secretary of State predict whether unemployment in Wales will be higher or lower in 12 months' time? If it is higher, who will he hold responsible?

Mr. Edwards

I never make predictions about unemployment.

Sir Anthony Meyer

As no positive proposals to reduce unemployment have come from the Liberal Party, and as the Social Democrats have now had the principal platform of their unemployment policy knocked away by their own conference, is it not time that the Conservative Party upstaged them by taking ideas for voluntary early retirement a great deal further?

Mr. Edwards

We must consider all ideas that will help to ameliorate this serious problem. My hon. Friend knows that at present massive measures are being taken to deal with those who are out of work, but far more important is the improvement in the rate of inflation and incompetitiveness which will create permanent jobs for the future.

Mr. Wigley

On what possible basis does the Secretary of State believe the present measures will reduce the appalling unemployment in Wales?

Mr. Edwards

I had good evidence that the measures are beginning to work from a major industrial company in north Wales only last week. Hotpoint told me that it is now disposing of its washing machines as fast as it can make them because the fall in interest and mortgage rates combined with the new hire purchase measures have, in its words, produced a mini boom in this sector. If that is beginning to happen, it is encouraging evidence for the future.