HC Deb 17 October 1994 vol 248 cc4-5
3. Mr. Jon Owen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has to increase the proportion of defence and defence-related jobs in Wales.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones)

Decisions on military facilities are a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. I am, however, pleased that the Royal Welch Fusiliers and 14 Signals Regiment will now be permanently located in Wales.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones

I join the Minister in welcoming the locating of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in Wales. I was with him at the celebrations on Saturday. However, that is only a very small way of redressing the enormous imbalance in defence-related expenditure in Wales compared with the remainder of the United Kingdom.

When the Secretary of State is making his pronouncements on cuts in Government expenditure in Wales, will he bear in mind the fact that only 1 per cent. of total Government expenditure on defence goes to Wales, despite the fact that Wales has 5 per cent. of the population of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Gwilym Jones

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for joining in my welcome to the two regiments that will now be based in Wales. However, the rest of his question was somewhat remiss, in view of the fact that his party is infiltrated by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament—with all that it has done to attack the important defences of the United Kingdom, including defence employment.

Sir Wyn Roberts

Has my hon. Friend had an opportunity to contrast the thrust of the present questioning with the contents of the amendment to today's defence motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister? If so, he will have seen that members of the Labour party are as much at odds with each other on defence as they are on everything else.

Mr. Jones

I very much welcome my right hon. Friend's contribution. He shows that he will continue to speak with a substantial voice on behalf of all the people of Wales. How appropriate for my right hon. Friend to point out the amendment tabled by the official Opposition for debate today and tomorrow, stating that defence spending should be reduced and Trident cancelled. Despite the attempts of Labour's new leader to throw unfashionable policy overboard, the Labour party is still wedded to it.

Mr. Rowlands

To attract defence-related or any other jobs to south Wales requires selective financial assistance. Will the Secretary of State give a categorical assurance that he is not campaigning or arguing inside the Government or in Cabinet to scrap, amend or cut selective financial assistance to Wales?

Mr. Jones

I am sure that I speak for my right hon. Friend when I say that he will remain resolute in securing the best possible share for Wales in every activity of Government work.

Mr. Sweeney

While my hon. Friend temporarily widens his brief to cover defence, will he take the opportunity to join me in congratulating the Royal Air Force and civilian workers at RAF St. Athan on their excellent high-quality work and on their success in winning contracts in competitive tender with outside organisations?

Mr. Jones

Knowledge of the abilities of RAF St. Athan is common in south Wales and this shows what it can achieve in a competitive environment. I am glad to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the workers there.