HC Deb 16 January 1995 vol 252 cc440-2
5. Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many people are unemployed in (a) Alyn and Deeside and (b) Clwyd and Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Redwood

The unadjusted number for claimant unemployment in November 1994 for Alyn and Deeside was 2,380. For Clwyd it was 13,463 and for Wales it was 110,299.

Mr. Jones

Those figures are worrying and stubborn, so there must be no complacency in the Welsh Office about unemployment. Does the right hon. Gentleman know whether a Korean multinational company, Daewoo, is planning to locate a car plant in Britain? Is he and the chairman of the Welsh Development Agency holding any talks with that company? Does he agree that Deeside would be a good location for such a car plant, bearing in mind the fact that it was the runner-up in the Nissan stakes 10 years ago?

Mr. Redwood

There is certainly no complacency on my part. Unemployment has been falling rapidly for a couple of years. I welcome that, as I hope the hon. Gentleman does. I also welcome the fact that unemployment stands at 7.1 per cent. in the travel-to-work area of his constituency. That is a much better figure than for many other parts of the United Kingdom. However, we want the figure to fall considerably lower than that, as I am sure he does.

On the project that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, my current advice is that that company has no immediate plans to set up a plant anywhere in the United Kingdom. Of course, if it did we would make it very welcome. I, the chairman of the WDA and others would be happy to talk to the company or send it any necessary materials should it firm up its intentions in the way that press rumours suggest it might.

Mr. Wigley

In view of the opportunity that the right hon. Gentleman has to express his economic and unemployment philosophy in The Guardian, at Tory dinner parties in southern England and on interviews on "Newsnight", why does he never mention Wales? Is it because he realises that not living in Wales, not having a mandate in Wales and not being elected by the people of Wales means that his title of Secretary of State for Wales is fraudulent? To use his words in The Guardian article today: The abuse of language is deliberately designed to mislead. When will the right hon. Gentleman resign so that we can get someone in the job who will stand up for Wales, fight for Wales and speak about Wales when he has the opportunity to do so?

Mr. Redwood

That was an extraordinary comment. I make dozens of speeches in Wales and I make dozens of speeches about Welsh issues. I write about Welsh matters in national newspapers as well as in Welsh newspapers. The hon. Gentleman might like to see my views on Wales, which are full of policies for Wales—policies that are good for Wales and which show how much I will fight for Wales.

Mr. Rowlands

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the serious position that thousands of people currently in receipt of invalidity benefit will face after next April? Under the Government's new incapacity test, they will be driven off that benefit, forced to join the long dole queues and will have to compete with thousands of people for poorly paid jobs. Is that a demonstration of the care and compassion of the right hon. Gentleman and his Government?

Mr. Redwood

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have often announced measures to help the disabled in Wales. I have announced additional money for disability schemes. It is important that there should be proper provision for disabled people and I have asked local government in Wales to work with me on that important matter.

On the general policy, as a Government we believe that there should be a test to ensure that a person is genuinely disabled before he receives benefit. I should have thought that that would be common ground. Of course, we want that decision to be made sensitively by independent people with good medical skills, so that the money goes to those who need it. If someone is disabled and needs help, I want to ensure that they get decent help. The way to afford that is to ensure that the help is given only to those who need it.

Mr. Sweeney

In view of the comments made earlier, does my right hon. Friend accept the appreciation of my constituents for the numerous visits that he has made to Wales and, in particular, to the Vale of Glamorgan, and for the stress that he has laid on renewing the economic success and vigour of Wales, particularly of the Vale of Glamorgan?

Mr. Redwood

I thank my hon. Friend for those generous remarks and I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate him and his wife on the birth of their first child.

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