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Volume 929: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he is taking to reduce unemployment in Wales.

In addition to the further allocation of £46 million for training purposes throughout Great Britain announced on 3rd March, the Government are continuing the special measures which they introduced to alleviate the worst effects of unemployment. These measures have so far benefited nearly 29,000 workers in Wales. Other assistance is being given through the Department of Industry.

Does the Minister agree with the Manpower Services Commission's recent prediction that the present record level of youth unemployment, which affects Wales like other parts of the country, is likely to persist for another five years? Does the hon. Gentleman further agree that the best thing that he and his Government can do is to take the pressure off the private sector so that employers are free to employ?

We do believe that there will be a persistent problem of youth unemployment because of the increased number of young people wanting jobs and the disappearance of jobs for young people. That is why we are awaiting the report of the Manpower Services Commission, a report which will lay before us proposals for the long-term solution to this problem.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government's approval of the building of the new general hospital in Bangor, of the new roadspan over the Britannia Bridge and the continuation of the hydro-electric scheme in Llanberis will enormously relieve unemployment in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, and my home, and will give new apprenticeship opportunities for young people in the area?

The Government are doing all that they can for that part of North Wales, which deserves attention because of the severe unemployment problem that it faces.

Does the Minister accept that the situation is quite unacceptable in Gwynedd, where unemployment is now between 10 per cent. and 12 per cent? That is something that we cannot tolerate, and it will worsen substantially because of the deliberate decision of the Government to do away with the regional employment premium. Will the Minister now say what alternative new proposals the Government have to replace the regional employment premium in order to encourage the development of manufacturing industry in areas like Gwynedd?

You, Mr. Speaker, would be impatient were I to make the Budget Statement at this point in time, but we agree with Members on the Opposition Benches that the level of unemployment in North Wales is intolerable. That is why we were pleased to see the relief of Shotton, and that is why this morning I have been discussing the possibilities of giving additional community industry places to North Wales, because of the problem that the area faces.