HC Deb 29 October 1990 vol 178 cc712-4
4. Mr. John Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the latest figures are for inward investment to Wales.

Mr. David Hunt

I am pleased to be able to tell the House that the inward investment figures continue to be good, and that in 1989–90 about 120 inward investment projects were secured—a substantial increase over the previous year—safeguarding about 6,000 jobs and creating about 6,500 new jobs.

Mr. Greenway

Those are excellent figures and they clearly demonstrate that the Government's policy to rejuvenate the Welsh economy is making excel lent progress, but I fear that my right hon. Friend is telling the House only part of the story. Can he confirm that that trend is continuing in the current year and prove that the voices of gloom and doom have got it wrong?

Mr. Hunt

I totally oppose the voices of gloom and doom in Wales. It has a great success story and we are proud of it. During the first six months of 1990 Wales attracted 61 inward investment projects, compared with 50 during the same period last year. All of Wales has benefited from 6,500 new and safeguarded jobs, compared with 5,944 last year. I praise all the component partners in that marvellous success story.

Mr. John P. Smith

As by far the largest concentration of investment has come to my constituency in the Vale of Glamorgan—although I refuse to take all the credit for that—what does the Secretary of State propose for training initiatives to stop the poaching of highly skilled labour in local labour markets?

Mr. Hunt

First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for the praise—I detected it between the lines—that he bestowed on the Government for attracting such major inward investment to his constituency and for working closely with all the component parts of the partnership that we are proud to have in Wales. He is correct to highlight the importance of training, which is why we set so much store on the new training and enterprise councils. It is important to have a local training strategy that is shared locally, and especially one that is private sector led. That will be the success story of the TECs in Wales.

Mrs. Clwyd

I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith) has had such good fortune. May I point out to the Secretary of State that, under his predecessor, Cynon Valley had the highest male unemployment rate in Wales; that under his predecessor's predecessor it also had the highest male unemployment rate; and it is still rising? What plans does the right hon. Gentleman have to reverse that trend and to attract inward investment into parts of Wales, such as Cynon Valley, which have suffered inordinately under the Government's policies?

Mr. Hunt

Now that I have had the opportunity to visit all the 19 valleys—I know that there are some subsidiary valleys that might object to that designation—I am carefully considering how best to take forward the programme for the valleys. I am aware of the problems in Cynon Valley. I have visited it and met representatives of local authorities. As I have acknowledged on many occasions, there are still pockets of poverty that are providing difficult to eradicate and areas with high unemployment rates that must be brought down—and I know that, in that, I share the hon. Lady's resolve.

Mr. Wigley

Does the Secretary of State accept that Members on the Plaid Cymru Benches do not echo the voices of gloom and doom about the prospects in Wales? However, to ensure that all of Wales benefits from inward investment and also to ensure that it is not confined only to the M4 corridor in the south and the A55 in the north, is not there a need to improve our north-south roads? Will he give an undertaking to review our roads programme with that in mind?

Mr. Hunt

Certainly. We are determined to try to do our best to improve all the infrastructure in Wales. However, I wish to take issue with the hon. Gentleman's second point. It is difficult to say to inward investors that we are interested in them only if they come to a particular part of Wales. I know that the hon. Gentleman accepts that. Provided that he joins us, which he does, in monitoring and propounding the success of the whole of Wales, there will be opportunities for all of Wales to share in the prosperity of inward investment.

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