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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 are the latest figures for unemployment in (a) Ogmore, (b) Mid-Glamorgan and (c) Wales; what were the equivalent figures in May 1979; and what is the percentage increase in each case.

On 13 June 1985 the number of unemployed claimants were 4,545, 34,657 and 173,422 respectively. In Wales the comparable figure is 77,200 in May 1979, representing an increase of 124ยท6 per cent. A comparable claimant-based figure for 1979 in Ogmore and Mid-Glamorgan is not available.

Does the Secretary of State realise that the 124 per cent. increase since 1979 about which he talks means, so far as Ogmore is concerned, that, with the closure of St. John's colliery, as a result of which 830 miners have lost their jobs, the percentage increase could rise to such an extent that 45 per cent. of male people in Maesteg will be seeking employment? Does he not think it is time that the Government, as a result of their defeat in the Brecon and Radnor by-election, changed their economic and social policies, and looked seriously at communities such as Maesteg, which suffer so badly when a colliery is closed?

I understand the problems of communities such as Maesteg, but during the past year projects from Invacare, Acrian, Align Rite, Biomet and the Chronar Corporation have been announced in the Bridgend area and promise about 1,200 new jobs. There are problems among the older industries, but we are succeeding in attracting many of the new technologies and new industries to the area.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the statements of the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) would sound rather more convincing if he had not supported the miners' strike, despite the fact that 70 per cent. of the miners in his constituency voted against it? However, we are all concerned about unemployment and I should like to know whether my right hon. Friend has any news about future employment prospects at Borg Warner at Kenvig Hill, which are extremely important to my constituency?

My hon. Friend will know that about 600 jobs at Borg Warner have been under threat for a considerable time. It was with a good deal of pleasure that we heard that the company is proposing a new use for the factory and has applied for selective financial assistance, which is being considered by the Welsh Industrial Development Advisory Board. I am deeply concerned that the proposals that the Borg Warner management has put to the work force appear to have been rejected. I hope that the members of the work force will consider carefully the future of the plant. It would be tragic if the prospect of 600 secure jobs were put at risk by a careless and irresponsible approach to a serious proposition from the management.