HC Deb 18 March 1955 vol 538 cc141-3W
Mr. Llewellyn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his meeting with the members of the Lloyd Committee for the purpose of discussing the Committee's future; and what conclusions have been reached.

Major Lloyd-George

By last summer the Committee had dealt comprehensively with its main tasks and had submitted three confidential reports to my predecessor—about road communications, railway communications, and the attraction of new industry. Arising out of the first of these, the Government has already announced a comprehensive programme of road development for South Wales. The Committee has been primarily concerned with the long-term problems of the area; this applies particularly to the report about the attraction of new industry, in which the Committee has furnished the Government with extremely valuable information for their guidance in framing future policy.

At the meeting I had with the Committee, we concluded after a full discussion that for the immediate future there is little more that the Committee can do to assist the Government, and that the best course would be for the Committee to dissolve on the understanding—willingly agreed to by the members—that the Government will be able to rely on the assistance of members, or of the whole Committee if it should prove necessary in the future to reconstitute it.

I hope that this decision will be rightly seen, against the background of the present improved position in west South Wales, as a mark of the Government's confidence in the area's future. It is apparent from the recent report of the Iron and Steel Board on the Development of the Iron and Steel Industry, 1953–58, that, provided demand is maintained at the expected level, the threat is not now so immediate, and the redundancies which will ultimately occur when the hand mills finally cease production are not now expected to be concentrated entirely within a short period of time. The healthy state of existing industry is shown by the fact that, since the Committee was set up two years ago, there has been an increase in employment more than sufficient to absorb the redundancies which occurred in 1953, with the result that the rate of unemployment in west South Wales has declined substantially. This development has been aided by the efforts of the Government and members of the Committee to encourage industrialists who are seeking new quarters to set up in the area, and we have no reason to believe that the area will not be able to cope with the situation if progress continues at the present rate.

The Government will not slacken their continuous efforts to promote the welfare of west South Wales; now that we have had the benefit of the Lloyd Committee's wise advice, we hope that these efforts will meet with even greater success in the future. I am sure Members on both sides of the House will join with me in thanking the members of the Committee for the very great care and attention which they have given to the problems of west South Wales.