HC Deb 23 January 1984 vol 52 cc623-5
11. Mr. Ray Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the total number of unemployed for more than 52 weeks in Wales and the corresponding number in 1979.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

In October 1983, 64,917 claimants in Wales had been unemployed for over 52 weeks. In October 1979, the number of people registered in the same category was 22,819.

Mr. Powell

I view with concern the complacency with which the Secretary of State gives these replies. Is he aware of the degradation, despair and mental torture of people who are unemployed for long periods? Does he realise that the only hope that people in Wales who have been out of work for more than 12 months have had from this Government was the hope that they would get a job under the community programme, but that the number of places on that programme are now being cut back? Does he realise that in the Ogwr borough area alone one scheme of 64 jobs has been cut, 800 have gone in mid-Glamorgan, and even more in Wales generally? What has the Secretary of State been doing in the Cabinet to protect some of the jobs that we thought would go to the long-term unemployed in Wales?

Mr. Edwards

We have recently allocated a further £15 million for Great Britain to enable the MSC to build up the community programme to the 130,000 filled places by the spring of 1984 that was previously planned. We are spending about £1 billion on the employment programme generally, and the job-creating activities that I mentioned earlier are of supreme importance for the future of people who are at present unemployed.

Mr. Raffan

Did my right hon. Friend hear the comments on television last night of Mr. Peter Summers of the Deeside enterprise trust, that the trust had almost reached the half-way mark in replacing the 8,000 jobs lost in the Shotton closure? Does my right hon. Friend agree that that tremendous achievement in job creation lies in the face of the preachers of doom on the Opposition Benches?

Mr. Edwards

I agree, too, that enterprise trusts are doing a very good job. I am sure that my hon. Friend will be pleased to know that the Angus Chemical Company of Illinois and Isochem of France today announced that, subject to the satisfactory conclusion of negotiations, they intend to build a speciality chemical manufacturing plant on a joint venture basis on the Deeside industrial park, and that 250 jobs will be created. I visited the Angus Chemical Company in Chicago in September, and I am particularly pleased about the prospect of that development.

Mr. Geraint Howells

What advice can the Secretary of State for Wales give to young people in Wales at die beginning of 1984 as what to do during the next few months, particularly those who have been unemployed since they left school?

Mr. Edwards

It is a matter of great satisfaction that the guarantee given to school leavers has been substantially met again in the current year. Of course, projects such as I have just announced will provide the jobs in the future for those who are now leaving school. Another announcement is being made today by an established firm, A.B. Electronics, of a major expansion of two projects, which are likely to produce several hundred additional jobs. Firms such as Angus Chemicals and B.B. Electronics will provide the prospects that we all want for our young people.

Mr. Barry Jones

I sincerely welcome the right hon. Gentleman's announcement about jobs in north-east Wales, but I remind him that under his regime Wales has lost 103,000 manufacturing jobs, including 30,000 steel redundancies, 2,500 coal redundancies and 4,000 textile job losses? Does he further understand that, following the last count, the right hon. Gentleman now presides over 12,000 jobless 18-year-olds and 9,000 jobless 17-yearolds? What will he do urgently to find jobs for young people in Wales who are out of work?

Mr. Edwards

I have already listed a good many of the things that we are doing. It is surely a matter of satisfaction that the job-creating prospects of the SFA applications that I mentioned has reached the best figure since 1974. I am also delighted that our new inward investment operation, WINvest, which has handled 186 company visits in Wales since it was established on 1 April, has been able to secure another 16 new overseas projects and seven expansion projects by existing overseas companies. Such work, rather than the specious and alarmist talk that is all that we hear from the Opposition Benches will provide jobs for the future. However, I am glad to see that a certain new realism is affecting the Leader of the Opposition, who has apparently abandoned his previous targets for job creation.

13. Mr. Ron Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what action he proposes to reduce the level of unemployment in Wales amongst 16 to 18-year-olds by the end of 1984.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

The Government will be providing around £1 billion next year on schemes aimed specifically at improving the employment prospects of young people.

Mr. Davies

In the light of the good news that the Secretary of State has just given us, will he give an undertaking that the level of unemployment among 16 to 18-year-olds will be lower at the end of 1984 than at the beginning?

Mr. Edwards

The hon. Member knows perfectly well that anyone who gave such an undertaking would be—

Mr. Ioan Evans


Mr. Edwards

—wildly irresponsible. The fact that the Labour party made such promises at the last election was one of the reasons why its economic policies were discarded by the electorate.