HC Deb 21 June 1993 vol 227 cc3-5
2. Mr. Llwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met representatives of Welsh local authorities to discuss regional development policy.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Sir Wyn Roberts)

My right hon. Friend has met a number of local authorities since taking office and looks forward to continuing the close dialogue that was maintained by his predecessor.

Mr. Llwyd

I commend to the Minister the report of the Institute of Welsh Affairs, "Wales 2010", and remind him that one of the key reasons why inward investment has been attracted to Wales is assisted area status. I urge the Secretary of State and his colleagues to acknowledge that we need to preserve those areas in Wales. I also urge him to prioritise the Aberconwy case for objective 5b status, not least because it qualified last time. It has a stronger case now and it will experience a knock-on effect from the fact that neighbouring Merseyside has had objective 1 status.

Sir Wyn Roberts

Of course, assisted area status can be very important in attracting inward investment, but its importance should not be exaggerated. Although assisted area status may assist companies in establishing themselves initially, they must be successful to perpetuate themselves and to expand, in the way that Aiwa is doing, as my right hon. Friend has just announced.

The hon. Gentleman will know that we went out to consultation on the assisted area map, and on 15 June it was submitted to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, whom I am sure we all wish a quick recovery. Once it has returned from the Commission, we hope to announce our proposals before the summer recess. The status of Aberconwy will be considered.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Diolch Yn Fawr, Minister. Is my hon. Friend aware that members of the Conservative group in the European Parliament are pressing very hard to enable tourist areas to receive assistance, even though they are not in objectives 1, 2 or 5b? If they succeed, the coastal areas of Wales, despite not being assisted, may be able, like Morecambe and Blackpool, to avail themselves of this facility.

Sir Wyn Roberts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Of course, tourism is very important to us in Wales and we can assist it through section 4 grant. Obviously, European assistance would be very welcome.

Mr. Ron Davies

There appears to be some confusion between the view now being expressed by the Minister of State and that expressed previously by the Secretary of State. Does the Minister of State endorse the views expressed by his Secretary of State in the Llangollen speech, which I have read and which I found profoundly depressing? It seems that the view of the Secretary of State is that all we have to be prepared to do is to sacrifice our environment and leave it, in his words, to settlers with strange accents to take the necessary steps to regenerate our economy.

Since there is now widespread dissatisfaction with the lack of coherence in the Government's policy, will the Minister of State join me in pressing the Secretary of State to convene an early and urgent meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee so that we can discuss the economy of Wales?

Sir Wyn Roberts

I wish that the hon. Gentleman had been at the Welsh Conservative party conference in Llangollen to hear the speech; It is clear that he has not read it in any detail. My right hon. Friend rightly said —and, if he will forgive me for saying so, there was nothing new in it—that conflict can of course arise between economic development and environmental considerations, and a balance must be struck between