HC Deb 29 April 1991 vol 190 cc3-5
3. Mr. Martyn Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give the latest figures for unemployment in (a) Clwyd and (b) Wales.

Mr. David Hunt

There were 12,364 and 108,049.

Mr. Jones

I thank the Secretary of State for his reply. Those figures are horrendous.

The right hon. Gentleman had to cancel his visit to north Wales recently. However, I am sure that he had time to read the front page of tile Denbighshire Free Press, which outlined the job losses in Boral Edenhall and ML Lifeguard. Will he consider pressing for regional development status for large areas in Wales to obtain European money to put matters right?

Mr. Hunt

I had the opportunity to meet Commissioner Millan last week. I reinforced the case, which I believe is strong, for Wales to continue to receive grants at the record level that it has been receiving them from the Community under this Government. As for the future of Wales, I wish that the doom and gloom merchants on the Opposition Benches would stop trying to talk down Wales, and would join the rest of us in talking up our prospects.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones

The Secretary of State will be aware that, in recent months, the town of Holyhead has suffered considerably as a result of the loss of jobs in its port. Some money has been made available to improve the environment of the town, but little has been done in recent years to ensure that money is given for job creation. What plans has he or the Minister of State to improve the situation in Holyhead?

Mr. Hunt

I greatly regret the fact that the hon. Gentleman has chosen not to take this opportunity to welcome the appointment of my hon. Friend the Minister of State. I believe that that appointment has been widely welcomed in Holyhead. During my visit there, when the hon. Gentleman was present, I received the message that there needed to be greater co-ordination of all the programmes affecting Ynys Môn and Holyhead. That is what my hon. Friend the Minister is now so competently doing.

Mr. Bevan

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that inward investment continues apace, and that real new jobs are being created?

Mr. Hunt

Yes, inward investment is reaching new record levels in Wales. I am delighted to be able to announce today six new projects involving £5 million in industrial investment. The six projects are backed by financial assistance from the Government, and range from telecommunications to climbing equipment. They include investment from German and Portuguese companies.

Mr. Ray Powell

Will the Secretary of State admit that unemployment in Wales is escalating right out of control, resulting in misery, heartache, degradation and domestic upheaval? Is he aware that the training and enterprise councils in Wales have created considerable unemployment in the past couple of months? Is he aware that my early-day motion 546 called for a parliamentary inquiry into Mid Glamorgan TECs where finances and appointments have gone astray? A thorough investigation is needed, because thousands of trainers and trainees have been put on the dole as a result of the right hon. Gentleman's action. Will he set up that necessary public inquiry? If not, is it because this matter is too hot for him to handle?

Mr. Hunt

One day, the hon. Gentleman will recognise what most people in Wales and throughout the United Kingdom already recognize—that Wales has a marvellous system of training and enterprise councils. Wales was the first part of the United Kingdom where they were put into operation and they are doing a marvellous job. I congratulate everyone connected with the TEC movement on the work that they are doing. When the hon. Gentleman looks at the statistics, I hope that he will observe one in which I take great pride: that in the past four years, long-term unemployment has gone down by 69 per cent.—from 78,014 in January 1986 to 24,020 in January 1991.

Mr. Barry Jones

The right hon. Gentleman may wish to congratulate the six Welsh companies that have been given the Queen's award for industry, but, with unemployment rising at its fastest since the last Conservative recession, will he end his hesitant approach and bring forward a package of measures to help the Welsh unemployed? Does the Secretary of State back the Treasury or the Department of Employment in their dispute over special employment measures? It is far too glib of him to say that Wales is bucking the trend. There are far too many redundancies for that.

Mr. Hunt

I have already announced this year 1,600 new jobs involving £80 million of new investment, to which I am pleased that the Government are contributing £13.5 million. Today, Iansing Linde, the Voice Processing Company Ltd. in Abergavenny, Lucas Meyer, Riverside Plastics, Honkley Engineering and Marine Company and HB Climbing Equipment are all announcing new investment projects. It is about time that the Opposition paid tribute to that.