HC Deb 12 June 1995 vol 261 cc480-1
2. Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many people are currently unemployed (a) in Wales and (b) in Alyn and Deeside. [26032]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Redwood)

In April 1995, there were 108,094 unemployed people in Wales and 2,458 unemployed in the district of Alyn and Deeside. Those figures are well down on those for last year and we wish to see them go even lower.

Mr. Jones

I remind the right hon. Gentleman of the loss of 140 jobs at NK International in my constituency and the loss of some 350 jobs at Kilroe Engineering this month. On that basis, will he consider granting development area status to my constituency? In that context, will he pledge his Department's and his Government's assistance with regard to Raytheon Jets' proposal to build a service station at Broughton in my constituency? Will he join me in trying to save hundreds of existing jobs?

Mr. Redwood

The hon. Gentleman of course has my assurance that I will do anything within my legal powers to help with the Raytheon situation. He knows that I have intervened in the past, and I am happy to do so again to try to promote the area. I think that Raytheon can get a lot of good work from the very talented and skilled work force already in the area. The hon. Gentleman has my assurance on that point.

I do not think that there is a strong case for assisted area status, because I am delighted to say that unemployment in his area is well below the Welsh and the United Kingdom average; it is also well below the European average and has continued to fall. Despite the heavy blow of job losses that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, unemployment has fallen month after month and the unemployment rate in the Shotton, Flint and Rhyl area is now 6.8 per cent. I want to see the unemployment rate lower still, but it is good by national standards.

Mr. Colvin

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is still scope for creating new jobs in the countryside in Wales as a whole and in the constituency of the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones)? Does my right hon. Friend think it is fair that England has been promised a White Paper on the rural economy? Why is Wales being sold short? Why did the White Paper not include the subjects of Wales or forestry, which is an important industry for Wales? Can my right hon. Friend guarantee to the House that any initiatives or incentives that are available to England as a result of the White Paper's recommendations will be available to Wales also?

Mr. Redwood

My hon. Friend is quite right: if good initiatives are being introduced in England that we are not already undertaking in Wales, we would want to adopt them in Wales as well. I give him that assurance again, as I have in the past to the House. My officials are keeping in close contact with the work in England. Of course, we had already set out a policy in Wales some time before the English initiative; but if there are good new ideas, I want Wales to be included in them. [Interruption.]

Mr. Morgan

As the newly unemployed in Wales will soon be losing their income support and mortgage assistance, does the Secretary of State's call at the Welsh Tory party conference at the weekend for the home-owning quiet majority to be celebrated, and not taxed, mean that he is breaking ranks with the rest of the Cabinet on the issue, as on so many other Government policies?

Mr. Redwood

No, I am not. The hon. Gentleman took a long time to remember his silly point today, which is why he sat on the Front Bench for such a long time after you called him, Madam Speaker. I am strongly in favour of every policy that the Government are putting forward. Of course, we believe in home ownership, unlike the Opposition, who undermined home owners whenever possible when they were in government.