HC Deb 07 February 1983 vol 36 cc619-20
10. Mr. Ednyfed 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 date in 1979; and what are the corresponding figures for mid-Glamorgan.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

On 13 January 1983 unemployment claimants in Wales totalled 180,664 and in mid-Glamorgan 34,102. In Wales this represents an increase of 109.1 per cent. since January 1979. A comparable figure for mid-Glamorgan is not available.

Mr. Hudson Davies

How can the Secretary of State blandly state those figures without expressing horror at the enormity of the unemployment problem in Wales, which has been created by the Government's policies? Is he aware that, in human terms, the 34,102 unemployed in mid-Glamorgan equate with only 752 vacancies? For every 45 people unemployed, there is only one vacancy. In Bargoed in my constituency the comparable figures are that, for every 57 people unemployed, there is only one vacancy. Is it not time that the Secretary of State made his personal protest against the effects and implications of the Government's policies?

Mr. Edwards

It may be characteristic of the party that the hon. Gentleman represents that it is more interested in expressions of emotion and protest than in practical alternative policies. His constituents are looking for policies that will improve the position, but they will look in vain to his party.

Sir Raymond Gower

As my right hon. Friend has made it clear that he is anxious to promote any means of greater employment, provided that it does not induce the return of inflation, will he pay special attention to the assurances of the house building organisations in Wales that, with modest expenditure—far less than the expenditure on manufacturing industry—they could create many jobs with a moderate increase in production?

Mr. Edwards

My hon. Friend will be aware that almost every real expansion of private house building that has ever taken place has been on the basis of low interest rates, which are a prime objective of Government policy. He will also be aware that, at present, substantial resources are available to local authorities in Wales for house repairs, renovation and building that are not being fully utilised.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Is the Secretary of State aware that the Labour party, the TUC and the CBI have put definite proposals to the Government on how to reduce this massive unemployment? Do the Government realise that they must reverse the policies that they have put forward while in office, which, although there is a world recession, have added to the recession by the deliberate creation of unemployment?

Mr. Edwards

All those organisations have put forward massive inflationary packages and, linked to them, proposals for controlling prices and incomes without a demonstration of how they would be more likely to succeed now than they did in the past.