HC Deb 16 July 1984 vol 64 cc10-1
8. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Secretary of Stale for Wales how many people, unadjusted and inclusive of school leavers, are unemployed in Wales; and by what percentage unemployment has increased since May 1979.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Last month there were 162,941 unemployed claimants in Wales. In May 1979 the estimated number of claimants was 77,177. That represents an increase of 111.1 per cent.

Mr. Jones

Does not the prospect of water rationing in south Wales point to lay-offs and job losses? Why has the right hon. Gentleman been so laggardly and lackadaisical in his approach to the completion of the Wye-Usk water transfer scheme?

Mr. Edwards

I am glad that on this occassion the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) is not so lost for words that he is unable to ask a supplementary question. I had hoped that he would welcome the fall in the number of unemployed by 5,858 since he last asked a similar question. We have made ample capital provision available to the Welsh water authority. It takes its own decisions on the planning of its capital programme.

Sir Anthony Meyer

What contribution to the long-term and short-term employment prospects in Wales has been made by the Leader of the Opposition in his outright support of the miners' leader who seeks to destroy simultaneously the coal and steel industries in Wales?

Mr. Edwards

I find it profoundly shocking that the leader of a major political party should associate himself with violence and intimidation and with a strike that can only do grave damage to jobs and add to unemployment.

Mr. Abse

Is the Secretary of State not abusing the miners and failing to answer the Opposition's demands about the impact of water rationing that is about to come to south-east Wales? Will the Secretary of State acknowledge his personal culpability for failing to monitor works that could have been completed in south-east Wales, but for his neglect? Is the Secretary of State proud of having made an industrial waste out of south-east Wales? Is he about to add to his accolade by making southeast Wales into a Sahara?

Mr. Edwards

We have spent about £75 million on improving the facilities for transporting water to the industrial areas of south-east Wales. I have no doubt that a water shortage would cause inconvenience, but it will create nothing like the damage and consequences caused by the strike which the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are encouraging.