HC Deb 08 December 1986 vol 107 cc1-3
1. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what are the latest unadjusted figures for unemployment in (a) Newport, (b) Gwent and (c) Wales; what were the equivalent figures for 1979; and what has been the percentage increase in each case.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)

On 9 October 1986 the total numbers of unemployed claimants in the Newport travel-to-work area, Gwent and Wales were 12,833, 28,863 and 174,105 respectively. Unadjusted figures for 1979 are not available on a comparable basis.

Mr. Hughes

Has the Welsh Office been notified that we are approaching the year of the homeless? Surely this is not the time to slash £2 million from Newport's housing budget, when there are 6,000 people on the waiting list and 3,000 families in urgent need. Why does the Secretary of State not put his back into a major housing drive which could do a lot of social good, besides taking thousands out of the dole queue? Perhaps he might then not have to fiddle the unemployment figures.

Mr. Edwards

We have given substantially increased allocations to local authorities, and there will be a substantial increase in housing expenditure in the year ahead, I have also announced several other major new initiatives in Wales which will help to create a large number of new housing projects in the Principality.

Sir Raymond Gower

Is it not a fact that there has also been some increase in the number of notified vacancies in the areas that my right hon. Friend mentioned in his answer?

Mr. Edwards

Not only has there been an increase in the number of notified vacancies there has been a fall during the past year in the number of people who are unemployed. Allocations of Government factories in Wales are running at about 2.25 million sq ft, which is an all-time record, and the number of jobs being provided by regional selective assistance and regional development grants is also running at record levels.

Mr. Ray Powell

As the Secretary of State continually comes here to Welsh Questions and whines about unemployment and his inability to get it down, might I suggest that he would be well advised to advise some industrialists to get on their bikes? Some industrialists on the south-east coast might show some initiative and come to Wales and the valleys. The Secretary of State talks about the 174,105 unemployed claimants in Wales, which is the fiddled figure. The Government have taken 18 steps to reduce the unemployment figure. The true figure is nearer 250,000. Is it not time that the Government started to tell industrialists to get on their bikes and come to Wales?

Mr. Edwards

A large number of industrialists are doing just that, which is why we have attracted 20 per cent. of all inward investment into the United Kingdom during the past three years, why I can announce today that Celatose is proceeding with an expansion project at Pontllanfraith, which will help to create an additional 190 jobs, and why there is such splendid activity by the private sector through the Ogwr partnership trust, which, through its initiative, is creating some 946 jobs in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. One could go on with a series of other examples.

Mr. Terlezki

Does my right hon. Friend agree, and do the Opposition agree, that unemployment in Wales has come down by more than 6,000 during the past few months, and that that is due to my right hon. Friend, who travels around the world, trying to bring industries to south Wales where they employ labour? Is that not a credit to my right hon. Friend and to the industries that come to Wales and provide jobs?

Mr. Edwards

I am glad that there are signs of improvements and that the unemployment figures are about 8,500 down on the same time last year. I believe that the major series of initiatives that we have announced in recent weeks will help to accelerate that process.

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