HC Deb 20 March 1989 vol 149 c723
12. Mr. Gareth Wardell

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what initiatives he is taking to replace the manufacturing jobs to be lost in the tinplate plants at Velindre, Trostre and Ebbw Vale.

Mr. Peter Walker

At two of the sites mentiond in the question there will be a number of off-setting jobs provided by British Steel. The total number of net job losses is expected to be 700, concentrated at Velindre.

The company has assured me that it is making every effort to see that workers are redeployed and it is confident that it will be able to redeploy many workers to other plants and is hopeful that, subject to the closure agreement, early retirement and favourable terms can be offered to a substantial number of those affected by this rationalisation.

Tomorrow announcements will be made by the Swansea Bay partnership whose co-ordination of efforts will be of considerable importance. A meeting took place with the local district council and the Welsh Development Agency last Friday. British Steel has made it clear to me that it will assist in seeing that the site is used for new purposes; that it will be involved in job counselling schemes; and that it will be making every effort to assist in encouraging job opportunities in the locality.

Mr. Wardell

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is sad that the only centre of the tinplate industry in the United Kingdom is being decimated in that way? Is it not a sign of Britain's continuing long-term decline in manufacturing employment? Does he accept that at Velindre, where the most job losses will take place, the missing link of the M4, which is an important factor in attracting investment to that site, will not be completed until the end of 1994, according to his plans? Will he look again at the matter and make sure that the link is completed earlier?

Mr. Walker

On the latter question, we shall be publishing the programme for roads with the appropriate priorities after Easter. However, the hon. Gentleman knows that it is not a matter of getting rid of the tinplate industry, it is a matter of rationalisation which will direct a considerable amount of additional investment to other locations in Wales and ensure their effectiveness. The steel industry in Wales is currently in a very strong and powerful position.

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