HC Deb 04 December 1995 vol 268 cc5-6
4. Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what new proposals he has to increase the number of civil service jobs in Wales.[1859]

Mr. Gwilym Jones

The number of civil service jobs in Wales, as elsewhere in the United Kingdom, will be that necessary for the effective and efficient discharge of the relevant functions.

Mr. Flynn

Why do Welsh Office Ministers constantly chant the comforting mantra, "inward investment" but never mention the taboo words, "outward divestment of jobs", which is a daily threat to the 30,000 civil service jobs that are being market tested and contractorised at the moment? The Welsh Office does not even measure outward divestment of jobs. What sense is there in allowing jobs that cost tens of millions of pounds to be brought to Wales as a result of regional aid to be put up for grabs so that they can be exported to elsewhere in the United Kingdom, to Dusseldorf or to Taiwan, to make cheese-paring savings? Will the Minister give a guarantee that the turmoil of market testing in the civil service will not result in the loss of a single job to Wales?

Mr. Jones

I just do not see why we should not be, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, proud of what we have achieved in securing inward investment for Wales. Year after year, we continue to punch above our weight—as my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) said—just as the United Kingdom outranks its competitors in Europe. I would take the hon. Gentleman's concerns on the subject more seriously if he did not so blindly adhere to job-destroying policies such as the European social chapter, to which he would quickly sign up.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes

Did my hon. Friend slightly mishear the question of the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn)? Was not the hon. Gentleman trying to say that he congratulates the Government on the 10 per cent. fall in unemployment in his constituency in the past year?

Mr. Jones

My hon. Friend is even more perceptive than I am. The hon. Gentleman was trying to point out that, in the past year, unemployment in the Newport travel-to-work area has fallen at a greater rate than it has the United Kingdom as a whole.

Mr. Donald Anderson

The de-concentration of Whitehall jobs, such as happened with the creation of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in my constituency, is one of the few instruments that the Government have at their direct disposal. Have we not reached the point where the privatisation proposals have as their only certain feature—as with Welsh Water and South Wales Electricity—the destruction of jobs, just as there has been a swathe of destruction through civil service jobs in Wales?

Mr. Jones

I stand by my comment earlier that I would take the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues rather more seriously if they were not such blind adherents to the European social chapter and to a Welsh Assembly that would impose extra taxation on the people of Wales and put up a no-entry sign to more welcome inward investment. How many present inward investors would start to change their minds about being in Wales because of those policies?