HC Deb 02 December 1991 vol 200 cc8-9
6. Mr. Gwilym Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what are the latest totals of actual unemployment in Wales.

Mr. David Hunt

Unemployment has dropped by more than 1,800 and is down to just over 117,000, if we take the unadjusted figures.

Mr. Jones

Provided that we can convince them that we are not bent on the same course, are not there excellent prospects for persuading Scottish insurance companies to set up in Wales? Because of their real concerns about the consequences of a Scottish Assembly, they are being forced to consider establishing new bases south of the border. Perhaps he should suggest to the Welsh Development Agency that it sends a mission to Edinburgh.

Mr. Hunt

I am a little loath to go down the same route with the same conclusion, but my hon. Friend has made an important point which has to be taken into account by all those who plead and argue that we should move towards setting up a Welsh Assembly, overturning the four to one majority against in the last referendum on the issue.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that all the economic forecasts point to an increase in unemployment in the period ahead? Has the Welsh Office made any assessment of what that will mean in terms of repossessions of homes, domestic discord, divorce and so on? Does he think that that should be given more serious consideration than the Welsh Office appears to be giving it?

Mr. Hunt

I am pleased to see the hon. Gentleman in his place. He appears to have made a swift recovery from his operation and we are delighted to see him here.

The distress that the hon. Gentleman described is distress to everybody. However, Wales has a higher level of owner-occupation—about 72 per cent.—than elsewhere in the United Kingdom. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will pay tribute to the significant level of inward investment and new job announcements that have occurred in Wales in the recent past.

Mr. Raffan

What plans is the Welsh Office making in conjunction with the Welsh Development Agency and British Coal Enterprise, to minimise the impact on. Delyn of the 200 redundancies at Point of Ayr scheduled for the end of 1993?

Mr. Hunt

I have been concerned about that announcement, and I want further announcements to be made about new projects in and around the area. I have been underground at the Point of Ayr colliery, as my hon. Friend is aware. I believe it to be a remarkably good colliery, and I opened the coal liquefaction plant alongside it. I am pleased to say today that a range of projects has been announced. They are new industrial projects involving investment of more than £25 million, creating more than 500 new jobs and safeguarding about 300 others. Some of those projects are in north Wales, but I agree with my hon. Friend that we need to hear more such announcements.