HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 cc299-300
7. Mr. Alan W. Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on his plans for the future operation of the Welsh Development Agency.[2600]

Mr. Ron Davies

The future of the Welsh Development Agency is being considered as part of our commitment to establish an economic powerhouse for Wales. That economic powerhouse will have a secure future. It will have funding on a sustainable basis and will be increasingly responsive to local needs.

Mr. Williams

I welcome my right hon. Friend to his new responsibilities.

Notwithstanding the excellent work of the WDA over many years, my right hon. Friend will realise that there has been a substantial imbalance between east and west in its work, to the extent that about 80 per cent. of the inward investment, jobs and resources go to south-east Wales and to Clwyd, and only about 20 per cent. come west of Swansea and to Gwynedd. What steps does my right hon. Friend intend to take to readjust that balance so that we get fair shares across Wales?

Mr. Davies

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his good wishes.

I acknowledge that, in recent years, there has been an imbalance in the rate of economic development in Wales. I recently met the chairman of the WDA and emphasised to him how important it is that we spread economic prosperity across the whole of Wales.

Of course, west Wales is one of the priority targets. There are some 620 acres under consideration for development in the west of Wales. The Velindre site is particularly important and is one of the best large-scale inward investment opportunities available in Wales. I want the WDA and the local authorities in the area to agree a joint venture on its promotion. If that comes about, I shall certainly give that site my full backing.