HC Deb 12 December 1983 vol 50 cc659-61
4. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many people were employed in Wales in June 1979 and the latest available date; and how many were employed in manufacturing industry on those dates.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)

In addition to those who are self-employed, there were 1,029,000 employees in employment in June 1979 and 883,000 in June 1983. The figures for manufacturing industry were 311,000 and 208,000, respectively.

Mr. Evans

Does the Secretary of State realise that there has been a massive loss of jobs in Wales since the Government came to office? We welcome the possibility of the Nissan plant coming to Wales in the near future, whether it be to north or to south Wales. Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that to replace only 100,000 jobs —he spoke about 200,000 jobs—we would need 20 Nissan plants with 5,000 workers at each plant? We would need that just to replace the number of jobs that have been lost under this Government?

Mr. Edwards

The hon. Gentleman should realise that we are talking not about a loss of jobs but about a considerable transfer and switch in the nature of the economy, with a growth of jobs in self-employment and an increase in the numbers employed in the service sector. In the manufacturing sector, the number of jobs expected from offers of selective financial assistance to new factory projects financed by the Government since May 1979 is more than 50,000. Many jobs are coming, even in the manufacturing sector.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the success of the Government's policy in freeing manufacturing companies from the state sector has resulted in companies such as Amersham International in my constituency recently announcing 200 new jobs in Cardiff?

Mr. Edwards

It is true that some successful companies in Wales are expanding their operations. Another is AB Electronics. I am glad to be able to tell my hon. Friend that WlNvest is today announcing four new projects for Cardiff and Tredegar, promising 300 new jobs. I discussed several of these projects during my recent tour of the United States.

Mr. Ray Powell

Is the Secretary of State aware that the community programme cutbacks mean losses of 64 jobs in Ogmore in one scheme alone, 800 jobs in mid-Glamorgan and thousands of jobs in Wales? Does he appreciate that this will increase unemployment in Wales? Is it not possible for more funding to be made available to the Manpower Services Commission to carry out some of the schemes forecast for 1984?

Mr. Edwards

As the Manpower Services Commission for Wales confirmed to me on Friday, that is really a complete misuse of language. What the hon. Gentleman calls "cutbacks" are the result of the number of applications having exceeded our original estimate. A larger number of community service schemes have been allocated to Wales than we would have expected from the original allocation to the United Kingdom as a whole, and we have now come up against the spending limits. It is true that a number of schemes are having to be postponed until the next financial year, when they can be considered again. When one comes up against a cash limit because demand has exceeded the original expectation, it is completely wrong to call that a cutback.

Mr. Mark Robinson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there has in fact been considerable success in attracting new jobs and new industries to the region? From the questions that one hears from Labour Members from time to time, one wonders whether that is realised or recognised.

Mr. Edwards

I have already referred to WlNvest. During the first eight months of its operations it has handled 161 company visits to Wales. Allocations to WDA factories this year are well up on last year's all-time record figure.