HC Deb 18 October 1982 vol 29 cc5-6
6. Mr. loan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what are the latest figures of the number of people who are unemployed in Wales, Mid-Glamorgan and Aberdare; and how many of these have been unemployed for more than two years and one year, respectively.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

In July 1982, the latest date for which a duration analysis of the unemployed is available, unemployment totalled 175,292, 34,691, and 4,055, respectively. Of these, 24,412, 5,099, and 656 had been unemployed for more than two years and 62,301, 12,123 and 1,454 had been unemployed for more than one year.

Mr. Evans

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the people of Wales believe that some of the Government's measures have led to the current level of unemployment in Wales? In view of the higher level of long-term unemployment, will the right hon. Gentleman look again at the Government's policy of removing special development and intermediate area status from many localities where unemployment has more than doubled since he took office as Secretary of State?

Mr. Edwards

If we are to have an effective regional policy, it is important that it should be selective rather than indiscriminately spread throughout the United Kingdom.

Mr. Marlow

As our trade deficit in manufactures with the EEC over the past six months, according to the latest Department of Trade figures, has been running at an annual rate in excess of £5,000 million, is it fair to say that Welsh jobs are now being taken by the French and the Germans? As productivity increases and lower wages may increase the value of sterling yet further, how will the Government ensure that the Welsh, like the rest of the United Kingdom, get some of their jobs back?

Mr. Edwards

During the recess I visited a large number of industrial companies in Wales—in some cases with their headquarters in North America—which export more than two-thirds of their goods to the Common Market and which would not be contemplating new investment in those factories if we were to leave the Common Market.

Mr. Maclennan

As one Celt to another, will the Secretary of State accept the gratitude which the Social Democrats felt to the people of Cardiff for extending such a warm welcome to them and for the insight into the unemployment problems which the Welsh face under the Government of which he is a member?

Mr. Skinner

Whose side is the hon. Gentleman on?

Mr. Edwards

Some hon. Members thought that it was a slightly over-generous welcome to give the Social Democratic Party a hall which could seat 2,00() people when there were only 200 or 300 people there.

7. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the increase in the numbers of people in Wales and Clwyd who have been unemployed since May 1979; if he will express these figures as a percentage; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Between May 1979 and September 1982 unemployment increased by 102,587 and 13,613, respectively, or by 123.6 per cent. and 117.4 per cent.

Mr. Jones

Is our Welsh steel industry safe from new job losses? Given the state of emergency in the steel industry, what action will the Government take regarding energy costs and ':he need to stop the flood of subsidised steel imports?

Has the right hon. Gentleman any news of the proposed Finnish pulp paper mill that is supposed to be located on Deeside?

Mr. Edwards

The central problem facing the steel industry is not energy costs but world over-supply and the problems between the United States and the European Community. Those are matters for detailed discussion and negotiation.

I have no further news on the project to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Mr. Grist

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the result of acceding to the demands of the National Union of Mineworkers would be the most incredible increase in electricity and other fuel costs to British industry and a serious further erosion of job opportunities in Britian?

Mr. Edwards

I hope that members of the NUM will consider the impact of their actions on the rest of industry and jobs. There is no doubt that one of the problems affecting British energy prices is the high cost of coal.