HC Deb 23 March 1987 vol 113 cc8-9
9. Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to increase the amount of public funds provided through his Department or its agencies to Anglesey; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

The provision of total expenditure within my responsibility in 1987–88 represents an increase of 10 per cent. comparable provision for 1986–87. Anglesey will benefit from this along with the rest of Wales.

Mr. Best

I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement. Is he aware that there are a number of projects on Anglesey which are helping its regeneration and which are pump-primed by Welsh Office cash, such as the scheme at Llanfairpwll station and the generation of a fishing industry in Holyhead? How does this massive injection of Welsh Office cash into my constituency compare with the amounts available under the last Labour Administration?

Mr. Edwards

In general terms, the last Labour Administration cut capital expenditure hard, having got into a considerable mess, and having been directed to do so by the IMF. Since then there has been strong growth in the economy. We are increasing public expenditure at the same time as reducing taxation and borrowing. My hon. Friend is right. Holyhead has benefited particularly. There has also been a significant increase in spending on tourism on the island. My hon. Friend has rightly drawn attention to the rural package which has helped Pringle to produce its very exciting scheme at Llanfair PG.

Mr. Barry Jones

I remind the right hon. Gentleman that every fourth man in Holyhead is jobless, that nearly 5,000 people on the island are out of work and that the county has the worst unemployment record in Wales—all those statistics being a consequence of his policies. Why did the right hon. Gentleman accept in Cabinet a Budget that denies Wales a strategy for jobs? The Budget did nothing for Wales. Wales is forgotten by the right hon. Gentleman in this instance. We need a stronger regional policy, including discriminatory measures favouring Wales and the regions. Why did the Budget not help Wales?

Mr. Edwards

The hon. Gentleman is asking a question about the Budget and Wales, and particularly Anglesey. I cannot help noticing that unemployment in Holyhead fell by 3 per cent. in the 12 months until February, which is a larger fall than in almost any travel-to-work area in the whole of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Wigley

Why is the Secretary of State so coy about giving figures? Will he now come clean and admit that his Department's expenditure in the last financial year was, in real terms, 34 per cent. lower than it was 10 years before? Does that not reflect what the Government have done to Anglesey?

Mr. Edwards

I notice that the hon. Gentleman is now changing direction and using a point of expenditure before the IMF cuts. In recent years, as a result of economic growth, we have increased public expenditure substantially. There has been a 10 per cent. increase in public expenditure in Wales, while inflation has been about 4.5 per cent. That is the result of the economic policies which are producing extra expenditure, reduced taxes, lower unemployment and lower interest rates.