HC Deb 10 December 1984 vol 69 cc729-30
9. Mrs. Clwyd

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the current number of men and women employed in Wales between the ages of 16 and 21, 22 and 55, and 65 years, respectively.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Information is not available on the basis requested. The most up-to-date information relates to the 1981 census of population. For the age groups nearest to those requested the information was as follows: 16–20 years—104,898; 21–54 years—783,709; 55–64 years—143,726.

Mrs. Clwyd

Those people are fortunate, but what about the 27.3 per cent. of men in my constituency who are unemployed? That is the highest male unemployment rate in Wales. Surely the duty of the Secretary of State for Wales is not to come to the House and wring his hands with counterfeit anxiety, but to put pressure on the Government to change their blitzkrieg policies towards the people of Wales and their industries.

Mr. Edwards

I am glad to see that over the past past two or three months there has been a small fall in the number of unemployed people in the industrial areas of south Wales. We are beginning to see the results of the massive inward and other investment that has been taking place recently. The tragedy is that in the hon. Lady's constituency those prospects are being blighted by the continuation of a strike which she encourages.

Mr. Hubbard-Miles

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the protestations coming from Opposition Members representing Welsh constituencies would be a little more credible this Monday afternoon if one or two of them had been in their seats last Friday morning when an important debate on unemployment and tourism took place in the Chamber?

Mr. Edwards

I am aware that hon. Members often have important engagements on a Friday, and I should not wish to condemn them on that account. My hon. Friend is right to mention tourism. It is an industry that provides an important and growing source of new jobs.

Mr. Abse

As there are 5,500 unemployed people in my constituency, 2,500 of whom have been unemployed for more than a year, will the Secretary of State try to relieve the gloom felt in my constituency by removing the prevalent present speculation, which has arisen as a result of planning applications, so that we may know whether there is hope of early large inward investment at Cwmbran? Is he aware of our concern that the recent changes, and any regional package being considered, should in no way adversely affect the attraction of inward American investment?

Mr. Edwards

I can certainly confirm that the recent changes in regional policy in no way affect the offer to the company concerned. I confirm that negotiations are indeed taking place with an American company with a view to its setting up in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. I hope that it will be possible to give news of the conclusion of those negotiations before long. There are still detailed matters to be resolved.

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