HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc849-50
8. Mr. Bill Wiggin (Leominster)

What proportion of jobs in Wales are in the public sector. [129543]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

The most recent data from the labour force survey show that one third of jobs in Wales are in the public sector.

Mr. Wiggin

So why is that not making any difference?

Mr. Hain

It is making a difference. The increase in employment in Wales last year—78,000—was the largest of any UK region. In the three months to July, Wales was once again among Britain's top-performing regions in terms of private sector output growth, according to the chief economist for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr. Huw Edwards (Monmouth)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that 256 public sector jobs are in the forensic science laboratory in Chepstow? Those public servants provide a superb service to the Dyfed-Powys and South Wales police forces. However, staff are seriously worried about possible privatisation plans. Is my right hon. Friend willing to meet staff representatives to discuss the matter?

Mr. Hain

I should be happy to meet my hon. Friend's constituents. However, I point out to the House that implementation of the Tory policy of 20 per cent. across-the-board cuts would mean that jobs such as those that my hon. Friend has described and other public sector jobs elsewhere in Wales would be savaged.