HC Deb 24 March 2004 vol 419 cc873-4
9. Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con)

If he will make a statement on recent employment trends in the private sector in Wales. [162550]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

The latest figures show that 75 per cent. of the employment increase in Wales over the past year was in the private sector.

Bob Spink

I am rather surprised by that complacent reply, considering that jobs in the manufacturing sector in Wales fell by 3,000 during the past year. Is not that a result of the Government's over-burdensome regulation of businesses in Wales, where 3,990 new regulations were introduced in the past year? That over-regulation is destroying jobs and livelihoods in Wales. When are the Government going to deregulate?

Mr. Touhig

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that in February 2004 the private sector economy in Wales expanded for the 11 th month in a row. Recent announcements of jobs created in Wales include: 90 at Sharp in Wrexham; 41 at Quotations Software in Holyhead; 100 at Brecon Pharmaceuticals; 700 in construction and 50 permanent at Exxon Mobil in Milford Haven; 40 at Bemis Global in Swansea; 700 at Logica in Bridgend; and 400 in aerospace in Blackwood and Cwmbran. We will take no lessons from the Conservatives, who said that unemployment was a price worth paying. Across the United Kingdom, unemployment under Labour is 3 per cent.; when the hon. Gentleman's party was in government, it was 3 million—not once, but twice.

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West) (Lab)

While we are on the subject of employment trends in Wales, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important to remind the House that at one time—when the Leader of the Opposition was Employment Secretary—unemployment in Wales went up from 80,000 to 120,000? Now, it is down to 40,000—a third of that level.

Mr. Touhig

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Thanks to this Government's efforts and successful management of the economy, investment has progressed, employment has increased, and record numbers of people are in work. There is a determination in Wales not to return to boom and bust and to the destruction that we had in Wales when the Conservative party—some of whose members want to return to their Thatcherite principles—delivered mass unemployment, wrecked much of our industry, put thousands of miners out of work, and destroyed local economies. We will not return to that.

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