HC Deb 21 June 1993 vol 227 cc5-6
3. Mr. Hain

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) men and (b) women were in (i) part-time and (ii) full-time employment in 1979 and at the latest date for which figures are available.

Mr. Redwood

In September 1981, there were 521,000 full-time and 26,000 part-time male employees and 231,000 full-time and 158,000 part-time female employees. Part-time male employment was not separately identified in 1979.

In March 1993, it is estimated that there were 415,000 full-time and 59,000 part-time male employees, and 237,000 full-time and 224,000 part-time female employees.

Mr. Hain

Those figures show that there has been a massive haemorrhage of well-paid, skilled full-time jobs into part-time work, as Wales is transformed into a low-skill, low-pay, casualised economy. Is not that another reason why areas of Wales should have their assisted area status protected by the Secretary of State?

Will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the economically inactive totals, because Wales has higher figures for economic inactivity than anywhere else in the United Kingdom? For example, in the south Wales valleys, is it not the case that four out of 10 adult men are out of work if one takes into account not only those on the official register but the economically inactive totals?

Mr. Redwood

Of course we want more male employment, and that is one of the targets I have identified for the Welsh Office under my leadership, as it had been identified under that of my predecessor.

Why does the hon. Gentleman not tell the House that, in his constituency of Neath, unemployment in 1986 stood at 19.1 per cent., whereas it is now 9.9 per cent.—it has almost halved. Surely that is something of which we should be proud. Does he not recognise that many of the jobs that have been created are skilled jobs in manufacturing in which people are making things and adding value to the process? Why does he not welcome the Lucas investment, which has created more than 150 jobs since November 1992 to make parts for the Rover 200 and 400? I hope that he is proud of those vehicles and wants more sold throughout Britain.

Mr. Sweeney

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his first appearance at Welsh questions in his new post, and wish him every success in promoting the interests of Wales? Instead of Opposition Members selecting figures, as the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) has done, is it not time that we heard figures which will sell Wales positively, such as those which my right hon. Friend has given? Is not that the way to promote Wales and further Welsh interests?

Mr. Redwood

I agree with my hon. Friend. We must be positive; much is going right in Wales. Policies are in place which will improve matters further, and I look forward to support from all sides and from all the people of good will in order to attract the investment and create the jobs.

Mr. Ron Davies

I am sorry that I could not make the conference in Llangollen, but I did not receive an invitation—perhaps next time.

The Secretary of State cannot have much confidence in his policies, as he is running away from defending them in the Welsh Grant Committee. Will he at least guarantee that he will fight in the Cabinet to retain development area status for the areas in south Wales and Deeside which are currently threatened? Will he also guarantee that, when a decision is taken, he will come to the House to defend it before Welsh Members of Parliament?

Mr. Redwood

Of course I give a guarantee that I shall speak up for Welsh interests in the Cabinet. That is my job, and I would do no less. There will be proper opportunities to debate the proposals in Parliament after they have been viewed by the European Community and when we have the Commission's decision. They are a legitimate matter for debate, and, one way or another, I am sure that they will be debated. I am happy to discuss with the hon. Gentleman through the usual channels the future business and sittings of the Welsh Grand Committee.