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Labour Statistics

Volume 79: debated on Monday 20 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of the registered labour force in Wales were employed in coal mining, iron and steel manufacture and textiles in 1975 and in the latest year for which figures are available.

In September 981 the percentages of the civilian working population employed in coal mining, iron and steel manufacture and textiles were 2·7 per cent., 2·5 per cent. and 0·7 per cent. respectively. The corresponding figures for 1975 were 3·4 per cent., 6·2 per cent. and 1·3 per cent. Up-to-date figures from the 1984 census of employment will be published in the November Employment Gazette.

Does my right hon? Friend accept that, futile though it would be for the Government to attempt to arrest the process of conversion from traditional to more modern industries, it would be wrong for them to leave the provision of replacement jobs in the new technologies solely to market forces ?

No one can say, after hearing the figures for expenditure by the WDA, or the figures that I have given to the House frequently on selective financial assistance, that we have left such matters solely to market forces. Massive Government expenditure has taken place in Wales on building new roads, improving infrastructure and attracting inward investment. I agree that a proper balance must be struck. However, we must be careful that Government expenditure is not so high that it increases taxes and the burdens on the private sector, which creates the wealth.