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Labour Statistics

Volume 82: debated on Monday 8 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what information he has as to the percentage of workers in Wales employed in firms, industries, services or processes that have been established in Wales since 1965.

Comprehensive information is not available. However, new manufacturing units known to have opened in Wales since the end of 1965 and still in production directly provide some 72,000 manufacturing jobs, some 35 per cent. of the total number of employees in employment in manufacturing as at December 1984.

Is it not clear that those figures do not give the whole picture? Should not the Government concentrate greater resources on promoting the growth of new jobs and new industries and not on attempting to arrest the necessary decline of some traditional industries?

Although I agree that we should not attempt to arrest necessary decline, the introduction of new technology and the modernisation of existing industry is an important contribution to economic recovery. Some 400 manufacturing plants have opened since May 1979 and they already provide about 18,000 jobs. Many have only just started to take on employees and will provide considerably more jobs in due course.

I am aware that the Secretary of State and his Department have done much to attract new industries to south Wales, but will he devote the same attention to existing industries? When W. Ribbons in the Rhonnda wanted some help from the Department, the Secretary of State was swanning around Finland. What did he bring back from Finland?

The hon. Gentleman might be unaware that I went at the invitation of a company which directly employs 250 people in north Wales and which will provide 800 or 900 jobs in the forestry industry in Wales. I also visited a company which is the 50 per cent. shareholder of British Tissues, which employs many hundreds of people in south Wales. As the hon. Gentleman says, helping the development of existing industry is important. I hope that he will not belittle our efforts to ensure that those industries are strengthened and enlarged.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government have a creditable record in promoting new jobs since 1979, especially through overseas investment in Wales? Does he further agree that that record could be even better if it were not for the negative chorus from the Opposition, who revel in high unemployment and all things unattractive?

Inward investment from overseas is undoubtedly an important contributory factor to the modernisation of Welsh industry, but we should not exaggerate. Of the 1,000 or so manufacturing units which still exist and have come into being during the past 20 years, only about 65 represent direct inward investment, whereas nearly half represent small companies starting up new businesses. That type of indigenous development is important for the future.

The right hon. Gentleman is far too complacent. He has not told us, for example, about Inmos today. Does he realise that under his regime 103,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared in Wales since he took office? Did not the Brecon electorate brutally dismiss his policies as wretched failures? Is it not the case that the policies must be changed or the endangered species behind him will lose their seats?

I do not believe that anything that I said to the House about the changes necessary in industry showed complacency. What is undoubtedly a matter of congratulation is that we are attracting new jobs. Since last Question Time there has been the announcement from Control Data at Brynmawr of 100 new jobs, from Shopco (U.K.) Ltd of 100 new jobs and that NDN Aircraft is to manufacture new aircraft in Cardiff creating 100 new jobs. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the announcement by Seddons in the Delyn enterprise zone that it will take on about 250 people. I am not for one moment suggesting that we do not need a great deal more, but to suggest that that record of attracting new business and new industry smacks of complacency is absurd.