asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's representations to Courtaulds plc. regarding its proposal to close its plant at Greenfield.
Plant closures of this kind must be for the commercial judgment of the company, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have urged the chairman to make all possible efforts to mitigate the consequences in the areas affected. I know that he is considering how the company can help.
Now that detailed negotiations have begun between Courtaulds and Delyn borough council, will my right hon. Friend continue to impress upon Courtaulds that it has obligations to the community that I represent and that it must—in his words—clear away debris and dereliction and assist in the task of new job creation? Should not Courtaulds also pay back the £2·8 million of public money invested in the modernisation of Greenfield between 1979 and 1981?
As my hon. Friend knows, I have made clear my views on the obligations of Courtaulds. Indeed, my hon. Friend has just referred to remarks that I made in the Welsh Grand Committee. There are established rules for the clawback of regional development grant. I expect that some of the grant may be eligible for clawback, and it is something that we are discussing with the company.
The loss of the Courtaulds jobs is a hammer blow to the north-east Wales economy. Why does the right hon. Gentleman not give a major cash boost both to the Welsh Development Agency and the Mid-Wales Development Agency rather than submit them to real-term cuts? They are underfunded and need more powers to face the problems with which they are asked to deal. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that during the past four months Wales has lost 4,000 manufacturing jobs, and that since he took office Wales has lost 131,000 manufacturing and construction jobs? What is he doing in the Cabinet to obtain a change of policy that will give hope to the people of Wales?
It is characteristic of the hon. Gentleman that all he wishes to do is to throw money in every possible direction. On Courtaulds, we have been having detailed discussions with the local authorities, and others involved, on specific proposals for the area. I expect to make an announcement about the measures to be taken within the next two or three weeks.