HC Deb 10 December 1984 vol 69 cc726-7
8. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many unemployed people there are in Wales compared with 1979 as a total and as a percentage of the total population; how many are long-term unemployed; and what percentage of the unemployed total is the long-term unemployed total.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

On 8 November 1984 there were 179,643 unemployed claimants in Wales, compared with a figure of 78,297 in November 1979. As percentages of the employee population they represent 16.8 per cent. and 7.1 per cent. respectively. It is estimated that 73,334 or 40.8 per cent. of the total for November 1984 had been unemployed for over a year.

Mr. Jones

Against the background of those doleful figures, the £60 million cut in regional aid is deplorable. I expect the Secretary of State to tell us today about new jobs from Japan and the United States of America. Having told us of those terrible figures, does the right hon. Gentleman propose to surrender weakly the skillcentres in Llanelli and west Gwent? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the loss of 230 Courtaulds jobs is a severe blow to the economy of north-east Wales? I remind the Secretary of State that in Clwyd there are 12,810 jobless people in the Flint, Rhyl and Deeside area.

Mr. Edwards

I was glad to see the MSC press notice issued on 4 December, which reported that there had been a sharp upturn in the number of jobs available in the Shotton area and that the number of job opportunities in the area was increasing. The savings of an estimated £60 million in the regional policy announcement will not occur until 1987–88. It is expected that there will be an increase in regional policy expenditure in the two years before that time. I must set those figures against the fact that Welsh industry is benefiting by more than £120 million a year from the abolition of the Labour Government's job tax. As for skillcentres, what is at present a proposal put by officials has not yet been considered by the Commission, nor have the Commission's proposals been considered by Ministers.