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Labour Statistics

Volume 79: debated on Monday 20 May 1985

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6.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what are the latest figures for the number of unemployed people in Gwynedd; how this compares with the corresponding figures for 1979 and 1974; within the latest figures how many have been unemployed for over 12 months; and how many are under 25 years of age.

On 11 April 1985 there were 14,494 unemployed claimants in Gwynedd. Comparable figures for the same period in 1979 and 1974 are not available because of the move to claimant-based figures. In January 1985, 5,182 claimants had been unemployed for over a year and 5,713 claimants were aged under 25 years.

Is the Secretary of State aware that his refusal to give figures for 1979 and 1974 shows how the Government are cooking the books to avoid the consequences of their policies ? Is he further aware that his statement last Wednesday in the Welsh Grand Committee about an increase in the number of people in employment has no relevance for Gwynedd, as the Government's only policy for that county appears to be to build an east-running road to take young people out of the county as quickly as possible ? When will he have a commitment to Gwynedd such as he mentioned in connection with the valleys ?

I suppose that the hon. Gentleman and members of his party must be the only people in Wales who seriously believe that the building of a modern dual carriageway across north Wales to Gwynedd is bad for jobs and not good for economic prospects of the area. I hope he will proclaim that message to his electors, because I think that most of them will dismiss it as the rubbish that it is.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the dualling of the A55 is the measure which is most likely to open up north-west Wales to greater employment prospects, just as the M4 has done for south Wales ? Does he further agree that construction work on highways is a good way in which to provide extra employment ? Will he ask our hon. Friend the Minister of State carefully to consider bypasses around the fine villages of the A5, as that would be an excellent means of producing greater employment ?

I shall do all of that. I cannot promise that we can get ahead immediately with all of the bypasses that my hon Friend requires. As he knows, we are conducting a massive road building programme for the general good of the area. I hope that he will draw the attention of local electors to the fact that Plaid Cymru believes that it should not go ahead.

This is the forgotten county. Why does the right hon. Gentleman not accept that, as long as Clwyd is wracked by high unemployment, it will be difficult to get major job projects into Gwynedd ? What will the right hon. Gentleman do to get work to the beleaguered community at Holyhead, where male unemployment is nearly 25 per cent. ? Why does he not acknowledge that Wales needs the expansion of the Welsh Development Agency budget ?

As Holyhead is a port on a main route to Ireland, I should have thought that it would be perfectly obvious that improvement of road communications to it is about the greatest single contribution that we can make.