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Employment (Gwynedd)

Volume 895: debated on Monday 7 July 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is aware of the threat to the employment of road workers and Crosville employees in Gwynedd; and what steps he proposes to take to alleviate the situation.

I am aware of these difficulties in the council's area, but I understand that no formal decisions on job losses have yet been taken.

Bearing in mind that Gwynedd is the fourth highest rated county in England and Wales and that it is therefore contributing very considerably from local resources, is it not clear that the transport grant and the rate support grant for Gwynedd are totally inadequate?

We have had this discussion in the course of the year. The rate support grant for Wales and for Gwynedd is very high. Having regard to the particular point of the transport supplementary grant, which is perhaps of more immediate concern to the hon. Gentleman, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport has already told local authorities that in our consideration of the allocation of this grant for 1976–77 priority will be given to proposals to provide or maintain minimum public transport services in less densely populated areas. I hope that this will be welcomed by the hon. Gentleman.

Does not the Secretary of State realise that the statement which he has just made is totally unacceptable to the people of Gwynedd for the coming year, since workers on road schemes in Gwynedd and those employed by the bus companies will be made redundant this year and money next year or the year after will be too late for many of them? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman understand that the increase in rate support grant for Gwynedd which he announced before Christmas, which was 4 per cent. or 5 per cent. below the average increase for England and Wales, was unsatisfactory and insufficient and that something must be done to prevent the redundancies which are now facing our county?

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the planning of transport services and the allocation of resources within Gwynedd is a matter for Gwynedd itself. I certainly do not accept the hon. Gentleman's statement, but I say to him, as I have said before—I do not have the exact figures here with me—that the higher proportion of general rate support grant to Wales in relation to that for England includes the figure for Gwynedd itself, which is very high, probably one of the highest in Wales.

Will the Secretary of State agree to look again at the whole problem of our rural counties with above-average road mileages to maintain?

I am always ready to look in relation to future years at the possibility of increasing whatever resources are available in order to ensure that those in greatest need have as adequate access to public finance as is possible. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is now advocating an increase in public expenditure. If he is, perhaps he will make his position clear.