HC Deb 19 November 1984 vol 68 cc3-4
3. Mr. Alex Carlile

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has any proposals for increasing the funds available to mid-Wales development for the purpose of industrial development in mid-Wales; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. John Stradling Thomas)

No decisions have yet been made on the board's financial allocation for 1985–86.

Mr. Carlile

When is the Development Board for Rural Wales to know the funds that it is to have? Does the Minister recognise that, with the decline in dairy farming in mid-Wales, the board's role in providing the wherewithal for jobs in the future is needed more than ever?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I cannot give a firm date for when that decision will be made. As the hon. and learned Gentleman is aware, the board's basic role has been to develop the industrial infrastructure of its area, for precisely the reasons that he stated.

Mr. Hooson

Does my hon. Friend believe that the opening up of the mid-Wales development factories for service industries, which I welcomed when the change was made, is having a beneficial effect on the utilisation of those factories?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

My answer is brief: yes, it is an advantage.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

I am sure that the Minister and the whole House will not think it appropriate for me to ask a question about mid-Wales without referring to my late predecessor, Lord Maelor, and putting on record the appreciation of his constituents for his long and devoted service to Merioneth.

When does the Minister expect to make a firm statement about the board's allocation? Does he accept that it is essential to the board's long-term planning that it has a regular allocation, which is increased in terms of the needs of mid-Wales?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I am sorry that I cannot go much further than I did a few moments ago, but we hope to be able to announce a decision soon. I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's last point. Conservative Members would like to add their tribute to those paid to the former Member for Merioneth.

Mr. Harvey

Is my hon. Friend aware of the extreme worry felt in Glen Dhu at the possibility of its losing intermediate area status? Will he guarantee that its status will not change?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

No, I cannot anticipate any decision that will be taken on this matter. I am aware that people are looking forward to the decision in the not-toodistant future.

Mr. Barry Jones

Why did the Government deschedule the new town area several years ago?

Mr. Stradling Thomas

I have noted that point, but, as the House knows, other arrangements have been of great benefit to mid-Wales.