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Advance Factories

Volume 885: debated on Monday 27 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many Government advance factories there are in Wales where no industrial production is currently taking place.

Two, plus two nursery units. Five other Government-owned factories, plus four nursery units, some of which were originally advance factories, are also available for letting.

My constituents will not be cheered by that reply, particularly those in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area, because we shall shortly be celebrating the second anniversary of the vacation of and subsequent non-production in premises in Blaenau Ffestiniog. I remind the Minister that I have had discussions with the Welsh Office about the matter over the past nine months. We are anxious that the factory should be tenanted, if not by private enterprise, by public enterprise in the area.

It would have been gracious of the hon. Gentleman if he had indicated the enormous amount of work put in by the Department of Industry, by my Department and by myself to try to get a tenant for the factory. It was regrettable that all our efforts did not bear fruit. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall continue to do what we can to get a tenant for the factory. The officials of both Departments are vitally concerned.

We have announced for Wales, in less than a year, three separate advance factory programmes, which will provide a total of about 300,000 square feet of factory space in Wales. There will always be some that are empty, but it is the whole object of the exercise that when industrialists show an interest the factories are there. I shall continue with my efforts.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that my constituents have been greatly encouraged and heartened by the initiatives taken by the Government since they came to office last March? Is he aware that an advance factory in Amlwch, which was vacant for four years under the previous Government, now has a tenant as a result of the present Government's efforts? We in Anglesey, and, I suspect, the people of Merioneth and other parts of Wales, are very grateful to the Government for the more compassionate and effective view they take of the employment needs in the Principality.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Thomas) knew the tremendous effort being put into bringing a tenant to Blaenau Ffestiniog. He sought to take credit for himself, and fell flat on his face. We are anticipating the need, and in addition to providing factories we are ensuring that land is bought in advance of need so that we can take speedy action when required.

I acknowledge the efforts of the Department of Employment and the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and appreciate the value of advance factories, but will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider to what degree the occupation of some of the advance factories at the periphery is held up or handicapped by the quality of the road communications to some of the remote parts of North Wales and other parts of Wales?

We are always doing out utmost to improve road communications. The hon. Gentleman is right to put his finger on that matter, although perhaps it has not been a particular problem for any one of the factories. We shall always do our utmost to improve the road programme which is so badly needed in Wales.