HC Deb 21 June 1993 vol 227 cc1-3
1. Mr. Spellar

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest figure for the number of long-term unemployed in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Redwood)

The long-term unemployment figure in the April 1993 quarter was 46,690. This is a big decline of over 40 per cent. since the peak of January 1986. I hope that Opposition Members will welcome that decline.

Mr. Spellar

Half that total of long-term unemployed is 23,000. Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to condemn and repudiate the statement made in this Chamber by the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans), that half the long-term unemployed had no intention of working again and could be termed layabouts? Will the Secretary of State condemn and repudiate that statement now?

Mr. Redwood

I want to see as many people as possible back to work as quickly as possible. For that reason, the Welsh Office has strong training programmes and many other routes that are designed to help people back to prosperity and employment. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that all will be done to ensure that all those who seek jobs are given help to find them.

Mr. Jonathan Evans

Has my right hon. Friend had the opportunity to see the manpower survey that was published today in the Western Mail? Sadly, it was tucked far behind the gloom that we hear from those who sit on the Opposition Benches. It describes Wales as the region that is most optimistic in terms of new job opportunities.

Does my right hon. Friend share my view that it is particularly pleasing to see that the areas where there are likely to be the greatest job opportunities are the manufacturing areas? Does that not show that Wales, under this Conservative Government, is leading the way out of recession, not only in the United Kingdom but throughout the whole of Europe?

Mr. Redwood

My hon. Friend is right. Wales is leading the way. I wish Opposition Members would get behind Wales when it is leading the way, instead of Opposition Front-Bench Members laughing, as if to say they do not believe it. The trouble is that Labour is whingeing for Wales, while the Government are busily winning for Wales. That is what we intend to go on doing. Opposition Members might like to read a few more of the headlines in the Western Mail.

Jobs—Welsh area most optimistic. CBI praise for Welsh lead. Wales at the top. Quite right, Madam Speaker, and more of it.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Secretary of State aware that the implications of his remarks in Llangollen—that the development of new jobs in Wales has been prejudiced by hostility towards incomers and by an all-protective attitude towards the environment—has caused considerable dismay in Wales? Is the Secretary of State also aware that, over the years, industry in Wales has grown, with people coming to Wales from all parts of the world?

Is the Secretary of State further aware that a new company in Llanberis in my constituency that went there last year is exporting 96 per cent. of its products, and that one of its employees, who went to that company from Oxford, has said that there is less racism in Gwynedd than was evident in Oxford? Will the Secretary of State reconsider his remarks and not base his policies on the prejudices of the Tory party conference?

Mr. Redwood

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman reads the speech, which made it very clear that it is the job of Government to balance the different pressures. The speech said that there are important things in the Welsh landscape, Language and history that need to be protected. It also said that there needs to be more investment, more jobs and more activity. The speech did not say that I thought that attitudes in the past had been too restrictive. It said that, in my job, I have an important role to play in achieving the right balance between protection and conservation on the one hand and new jobs and a new spirit on the other.

Mr. Richards

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, on these occasions in the past, his predecessor had some good news to impart to the House and to the people of Wales? Does he intend to continue in that vein? Does he have some good news for us today—perhaps something to do with inward investment?

Mr. Redwood

These unscripted questions are always dangerous, but it so happens that I do have something that my hon. Friend might welcome. I hope that the Opposition will welcome it, too. Aiwa Japan is going to announce today a £27 million expansion of the Penyfan industrial estate at Crumlin in Gwent.

Where are the cries of support now from Opposition Members? That represents 480 possible new jobs by 1996. The Welsh Development Agency will be helping by providing a custom-built factory extension. Let us have some support for that, for it means more manufacturing jobs in Wales and better hi-fis and compact disc systems for customers.

Mr. Rowlands

But does the right hon. Gentleman realise that last Friday's premature closure of Taff Merthyr colliery wiped out fourfold all the new jobs that we have managed to create in our community in the past 12 or 18 months? In addition, 20 per cent. of men are out of work and 20 per cent. of men are economically inactive in our society. What new initiatives will he take to create new jobs for men in communities like mine, instead of penalising poor people and invalids?

Mr. Redwood

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take a more positive attitude. All our policies are geared to encouraging prosperity and more jobs. I have already instanced some manufacturing jobs that are going to a hard-pressed area of Wales as a result of another initiative. We need more, and I promise to do more because it is extremely sad to see the loss of jobs with more pits closing and I hope that some people can look to see whether there is any way of rescuing some of the pits that have been scheduled for closure.

Back to