HC Deb 09 June 1986 vol 99 cc9-10
7. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what has been the total expenditure of the Welsh Development Agency since May 1979.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

From 1 April 1979 to 31 March 1986 gross expenditure by the Welsh Development Agency totalled some £520 million.

Mr. Knox

What has been the average spent by the authority each year since the Government came into office and how does that compare with the average spent each year under the Labour Government?

Mr. Edwards

From April 1979 to March 1986 expenditure was at an average of £74.2 million a year, which compares with an average of £34.8 million a year under the previous Labour Government.

Dr. Roger Thomas

Will the Minister help us decide which are the correct figures for the numbers of unoccupied WDA factories in the borough of Dinefwr? Is it seven out of 27 post-1979, as the Welsh Grand Committee was told by the Under-Secretary, or 14 out of 24, the figure given to me by the chief executive of Dinefwr borough council and as counted by myself the other afternoon?

Mr. Edwards

If we are asked a specific question about that particular point, we shall provide an answer.

Mr. Barry Jones

Why, since 1979, has the right hon. Gentleman reimposed real terms cuts on the agency's budget while, at the same time, we have seen unemployment soar by 130 per cent.? Will he now sanction urgently more cash for the valleys' initiative, for the advance factory programme and for venture capital?

Mr. Edward

It is simply not true, as I told the hon. Gentleman in the Welsh Grand Committee, to say that there have been real terms cuts. He has made comparisons with the period when we had made substantial allocations to deal with the steel closure areas. As I have already told the House, we have built 90 per cent. of the advance factories built by the WDA. The WDA continues to have an important role, but we debated those matters at great length in the Welsh Grand Committee only the other day.

Mr. Wigley

As only £500,000 of the £25 million for factory building in the WDA's current programme will go to Gwynedd, will the Secretary of State have a word with the chairman of the WDA to make sure that the unemployed in Gwynedd get a fair crack of the whip?

Mr. Edwards

One feature of the WDA'S management of the factory programme is to keep the programme under continual review and to respond to need as it arises. In the Welsh Grand Committee debate I announced some additional factory provision in response to represenations that had previously been made and I shall draw the agency's attention to the representations now made by the hon. Gentleman.