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Expenditure

Volume 981: debated on Monday 17 March 1980

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8.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is now in a position to state in what way the additional £48 million will be spent in Wales.

Around £40 million will be allocated to the WDA and the rest to the Cwmbran new town development corporation. The money is for the provision of sites and advanced factories in the area affected by the planned reductions at Port Talbot and Lianwern.

Will my right hon. Friend accept that the emphasis that the Government are placing on the problems of Wales will be welcomed by all hon. Members? However, will he and the Minister continue to make speeches such as that at the weekend to ensure that potential foreign investors are aware of the benefits of Wales? Will he deprecate the statements made by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, which serve only to damage future investment prospects in Wales? Will he school them to cease such pontifications?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. It is not only I who hold that view. It is shared by those responsible for the Development Cor- poration and the Welsh Development Agency and others who have the job to encourage new industry to come to Wales. Such statements and the travesty of the truth presented by those who make them add to the problems of the Principality and make it more difficult to attract new jobs to Wales.

As the Government are determined to further cut public expenditure and as private investment is falling, where will the growth in the Welsh economy come from over the next few years?

As a result of the reckless policies pursued by the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues when they were in Government, we have excessive public expenditure and borrowing. As a result of our policies, there will be a gradual reduction in the public sector borrowing requirement, interest rates and inflation, and new investment will he given fresh confidence.

Will the Secretary of State accept that once again we have had the £48 million turned down? Will the right hon. Gentleman now confirm that the budget for the WDA for 1980–81 will be only £58 million, which is £6 million more than the orginal budget? Will he further confirm that the concentration will be in the steel areas, at the expense of other areas that have long been in need of such investment? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the poor areas of Wales are having to pay for the follies of this Government's steel policies?

If the right hon. Gentleman ponders a little further, I believe that he will agree that it is right to concentrate aid on the areas affected by steel closures and the present serious situation. He knows perfectly well that we publicly announced in this House a reduction in the WDA budget. Since then a new situation has developed, and I have found substantial additional funds to be concentrated on the infrastructure in those areas. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will welcome that additional expenditure and do something to encourage fresh development to come to Wales, instead of backing his colleagues in nonsensical talk about industrial deserts and painting a picture of gloom and despondency, which can do us nothing but harm.