HC Deb 10 December 1984 vol 69 cc722-3
5. Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the current activities of the Welsh Development Agency.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

The agency is vigorously implementing the strategy set out in its published corporate plan. Its activities are aimed at regenerating the Welsh economy and improving the industrial infrastructure and the environment. Particular importance is attached to securing more inward investment and encouraging technological development, and every effort is made to harness private sector funds.

Mr. Best

Is the Welsh Development Agency in a position to help locally by paying particular attention to local needs and problems, such as those in Holyhead?

Mr. Edwards

My hon. Friend has recently met the chief executive of the Welsh Development Agency and discussed local problems with him. He will know that as a result of recent difficulties the agency's regional office is about to launch a series of informal sessions and seminars with WDA tenants and other local business people. Such local consultative activity will be helpful.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Secretary of State take the opportunity to encourage Welsh local authorities to take advantage of the investment fund set up by the Welsh Development Agency and urge them to examine their own investments, and pension funds investments, in order to gain practical benefit from their capital resources?

Mr. Edwards

I welcome that suggestion. The closest co-operation between the agency, local authorities and the private sector is the key to success if we are to make the best use of resources.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Will not the cuts in regional aid make the WDA's job that much more difficult? Has the Secretary of State forgotten that, following the slimline operation, thousands of steel workers are still unemployed? As a recent survey in Port Talbot shows that one fifth of them are still out of work three years after that exercise, does that mean that the Secretary of State and the Government do not appreciate the desolation over which they are presiding?

Mr. Edwards

I am sure that south Wales will remain competitive as a result of the regional changes. The combination of the regional incentives, the work of the agency, the advantages of the European coal and steel loans and the other packages of assistance will ensure that, as before, the Newport area and the steel closure areas will continue to attract new inward investment and jobs.

Forward to