HC Deb 10 December 1984 vol 69 cc718-9
2. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will make a statement on the progress of enterprise zones and trusts in Wales.

Mr. Stradling Thomas

It is estimated that the three enterprise zones have attracted some 1,700 jobs so far and that the trusts have created or saved some 4,000 jobs. I regard this as excellent progress.

Mr. Hooson

I have gained the impression that Powys Self-Help has been one of the most effective trusts. Does my hon. Friend have information to back that impression?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I most certainly do. I understand that Powys Self-Help is making good progress. To date it has helped 80 new businesses to start and 60 existing firms to expand, and it has helped to create or save 300 jobs.

Mr. Anderson

Will the Welsh Office try to learn from the experience of the first enterprise zone in Swansea and, in particular, consistent with current regional policy, could not the benefits be more job-related? How does the Welsh Office see the future of retailing in the enterprise zones, given the effect in adjacent areas, and can we still support the idea in principle of having retailing enterprises within the zones?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, Swansea has been identified as one of the more successful enterprise zones in terms of completed floor space, attraction of firms, employment and provision of service sites. I am aware of the views expressed about the retailing side. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is well aware of this, as he keeps in close touch. We have recently made a modification which, having consulted both sides in the matter, I can say will be welcomed generally.

Mr. Raffan

In view of the recent tragic announcement of redundancies amounting to nearly one third of the work force at Courtaulds green field, will my hon. Friend seriously consider any applications from Delyn borough council for an extension of the land included in the Delyn enterprise zone and treat sympathetically any request for financial aid to meet the problems created by those redundancies?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I am aware of that concern. The Government regret the redundancies that have been announced. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited the plant last year and knows of the efforts that have been made to make it profitable. The redundancy decision must be for the company in the light of its assessment of future commercial prospects. However, I have taken note of my hon. Friend's point and will give serious consideration to any proposal that is put forward. For understandable reasons, I can give no guarantee of the outcome of the deliberations, but at the same time I must warn that statutory procedures would have to be gone through.

Mr. Coleman

Is the Minister aware that rumour has it that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has some goodies to announce today? Does he agree that the efforts of trusts, such as the Neath Development Partnership, which on its own has created about 900 jobs in the past five years, have done a great deal to reflect the status of Wales as a place for people to come to?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I pay tribute to the efforts of the Neath partnership, which is a very good example of how well both the private and public sectors can work together. I have visited that partnership, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will visit it later this week to provide encouragement for the good work that it is doing.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Is it not absurd to impose tolls on the Cleddau bridge, in the enterprise zone in the Secretary of State's constituency, which restrict movement from one side to the other, thus defeating the object of the exercise? In view of the astronomical figure of unemployment in the Secretary of State's constituency, does it mean that the right hon. Gentleman has forsaken those people as well?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

My right hon. Friend forsook them to the extent that the Government provided a £4 million interest-free loan. Furthermore, as this matter affects a private Bill, I am sure that it would be out of order to make any further comment.

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