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Unemployed Persons

Volume 895: debated on Monday 7 July 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received about the increase in the number of unemployed in Wales, and the fewer job vacancies now available in the Principality.

The Welsh Council has expressed its concern to me, and I am aware of the concern of many other organisations in Wales.

Does the Secretary of State recall that he and his colleagues used to assail Conservative Governments month in and month out, and year in and year out, over a very long time when there were far fewer unemployed than there are at present and many more vacancies? Can he imagine the sort of outcry there would have been if a Conservative Government had published such dismal statistics as his Government recently published?

Certainly, we face a serious situation, and the hon. Gentleman is right to recognise that. I am confident that the measures indicated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week will ensure that we tackle the serious problems which face us all—problems about which I warned the House on the first Welsh day last year, when I said that things would get worse before they got better, in view of our inheritance from the previous Government.

Is the Secretary of State aware that we have recently lost a major industrial project which would have given us many jobs in Caernarvon? Is he aware that there were two main reasons, inadequate road network and the cost of water? Is he further aware that there has been an astronomical increase in the cost of water for industry and did he know that a firm in my constituency, Bryncir Woollen Mills, last year paid £54 for water and this year has received a bill for £17,000? In the light of that sort of proposed increase and the effect it has on employment, can the Secretary of State say when he expects to be able to announce the findings of the Daniel Committee?

The Conservative Party set up the Welsh Water Authority and the present board operates under the same Act. It might have been as well if the hon. Member had remembered this when he supported the main Opposition on Thursday in attempting to defeat the Government on the Industry Bill.

Does the Secretary of State think that because he warned of dangers, that is an excuse for the present situation? Does he recall that in 1972 he said that Wales would not tolerate a level of unemployment which was a good deal lower than it is now? Does he think that the people of Wales will tolerate that level because it has been caused by the policies of his Government?

The unemployment figures are grave. I do not, and never have attempted to, minimise the gravity of the situation. Measures are being taken to tackle inflation and I hope that they will be supported by all hon. Members.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) made a very serious charge when he said that a major industry had failed to come to North Wales? I think he was referring to Glaxo, Can my right hon. and learned Friend look at this matter and perhaps talk to the firm's chairman and directors and find out why it failed to come to this area of high unemployment?

I will do that. This issue arose before I took over certain industrial powers on 1st July, but it is right to examine cases where industry is lost. No one is more aware than I of the inadequate road communications in North Wales, but I think it is right to concentrate on certain priorities and get one job properly done at a time to avoid the pepperpot road pattern which exists throughout North and South Wales.