HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc5-7
5. Mr. Ray Powell

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the increase in unemployed 16 to 18-year-olds and males and females over 18 years has been since he last answered oral questions.

Mr. David Hunt

As the figures are collected quarterly, no new figures are yet available.

Mr. Powell

I hope that I shall be given the same latitude as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett).

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Powell

As we do not have the figures, it is important that we get the facts right. I will give the Secretary of State my estimate. In my constituency, about 200 people will join the unemployment register as a result of the closure of CATO—Community Activities and Training in Ogmore. When the right hon. Gentleman meets the chairmen of the training and enterprise councils, as he has told my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) that he will, will he ask them to carry out an investigation of the financial circumstances of Mid Glamorgan TEC in particular? I understand that, among all the millions of pounds to which the Secretary of State has referred, about £1 million has gone astray in Mid Glamorgan TEC alone. That could have kept in operation the five agencies which have been made redundant since they were set up, and provided training for 400 or 500 trainees.

Mr. Hunt

I believe that the development of training and enterprise councils has been generally welcomed by the House. I also believe that they have sufficient resources. It is for the TECs to determine their financial and management decisions, including the selection of training providers. The TECs have made it clear that the contracts that are signed must satisfy the quality standards criteria. This is a matter for the training and enterprise councils.

Mr. Livsey

What advice would the Secretary of State give to one of my constituents, aged 18, who completed a two-year course and then discovered that he was applying with 81 others for a job? He failed to get it, although he was well qualified. Would the Secretary of State say to that young person, as was said to me when I was aged 18, that his only opportunity lies outside Wales?

Mr. Hunt

The hon. Gentleman's question gives me a great opportunity to blow the Welsh Office's trumpet and say that 17 new industrial projects, involving investment of more than £63 million and creating more than 1,260 jobs, have been announced by me from this Dispatch Box in the past month. The opportunities available are increasing. A number of very large industrial concerns, including Toyota and Bosch, are recruiting staff. I am determined that the number of opportunities will increase.

Mr. Raffan

In view of the recent announcement of a total of 400 new jobs in north Wales—at W. A. Turner in Flint, Breger Gibson in Greenfield and Mita in St. Asaph—does my right hon. Friend agree that that demonstrates not only the underlying strength of the local economy in north Wales but the job opportunities for young people there?

Mr. Hunt

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. I am grateful to him for giving me this opportunity to demonstrate that all those announcements are positive proof that Wales, and particularly north Wales, continues to act as a magnet for industrial investment from both home and abroad. Some Opposition Members do not like good news, but this is very good news for Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones

I congratulate the Department on any of its success stories, but they are being undermined by the current deep recession. Has the Secretary of State overlooked last week's loss in Pontypridd of 125 valuable electronics jobs? The Conservatives tell us that they have solved Wales's problems and engineered an economic miracle, but do not the unemployment figures tell a different story? For example, has not unemployment in Neath increased by 12 per cent. during the last year? Was not the right hon. Gentleman's press statement in Neath this morning a grotesque travesty of the facts?

Mr. Hunt

I am a little mystified as to why the hon. Gentleman should mention Neath, of all places. I should hate to think that he was trying to make party political advantage out of the very serious challenge that faces Wales. Since 1979, there have been a large number of inward investment projects in Neath, creating 1,200 jobs. To rehearse what I said earlier, the medium to longer-term prospects for Wales are still as good as ever.