HC Deb 21 June 1993 vol 227 cc6-8
5. Mr. Roy Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the level of male unemployment in Newport, Gwent and Wales at the latest available date.

Mr. Redwood

The unadjusted numbers of male unemployed claimants for the borough of Newport, Gwent and Wales for May are 6,084, 16,978 and 102,056 respectively.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that many people in Newport seek employment outside the borough? Many of them were employed at the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical concern at Mamhilad, Pontypool, but recently the concern has suffered massive redundancies. Those were due, apparently, to the Government's policy of promoting generic drugs which has benefited Germany and France. Can the right hon. Gentleman look into that matter, because we cannot afford to lose such a valuable employer in Gwent?

Mr. Redwood

Of course I will look into the matter, and I am sorry about the job losses that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. But is he aware that 18,000 people came off the unemployment register in May? A total of 14,000 joined the register, leaving a net gain of 4,000 job losses. I would have thought that Opposition Members would welcome that. Does the hon. Gentleman welcome the fact that there are 9,000 vacancies available? I hope that some of those can be taken up by his constituents.

Will Opposition Members welcome the major new jobs announced by a number of companies recently, including 320 jobs at Boots Properties at Caerphilly, 38 at Wrexham Wire, 70 at Grayman Tooling, 150 at Delta Dairy Food in Wrexham and 60 at the Friendly hotel in Cardiff. I could go on, Madam Speaker, but I know that you would get impatient if I did.

Mr. John Marshall

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the level of unemployment in Wales has benefited from inward investment? Does he think that inward investment would be encouraged by the adoption of the social chapter or by a national minimum wage?

Mr. Redwood

No, I do not, and that is one of the reasons why this country and Wales are going ahead while other members of the European Community are not. People thinking of investing in the European Community know that here in Britain—here in Wales—they will find both opportunities and protection from the more absurd elements of the EC's job destruction programme, which socialists in the Community seem to favour. I am glad that my hon. Friend has drawn attention to one of the reasons why Welsh unemployment is now below the national average and why we can be proud of the Welsh efforts to attract inward investment.

Mr. Barry Jones

May I tell the right hon. Gentleman that the remarks of the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) about the long-term unemployed have been received with anger and scorn in my constituency, where there are some 820 people so described, all of whom would like a job? So that more of my constituents may be employed, may I urge the right hon. Gentleman to begin the urgent building of the new River Dee crossing? If he did that, he would end the traffic agony and blight that have existed for a generation. Does he accept that that traffic problem is unrivalled elsewhere in Wales and that, if he tackled it urgently by building the new River Dee crossing, he would also make inroads into the widespread unemployment in north-east Wales?

Mr. Redwood

The hon. Gentleman offers me good advice. It is a county project; the Government are happy to support it for the reasons that the hon. Gentleman has identified.

Mr. Murphy

When the Secretary of State refers to 150 jobs having been gained in Lucas in south Wales, does he not realise that 150 jobs were lost in the same company in my constituentcy last year? When he talks about 500 new jobs coming to Aiwa in Gwent, does he not realise that 500 jobs have been lost in Parke-Davis, also in my constituency? Does he not accept that the loss of those jobs was due largely to the Government's policy on limited prescription drugs? The right hon. Gentleman is the Health Secretary as well as the Economy Minister for Wales. What does he intend to do to safeguard the remaining jobs in the pharmaceutical industry in the Principality?

Mr. Redwood

I know that I can always rely on the Opposition to give us the bad news. It is my job to give the good news and the positive face of Wales, and to point out to the House that unemployment has been falling for several months, which we welcome, and that many investors are coming in and creating jobs, which the Opposition should welcome, as we do. I have already answered the other part of the question. I told the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) that I would look into the question of the pharmaceutical company.