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Welsh Development Agency

Volume 84: debated on Monday 21 October 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales why he approved of Mr. Neil Taylor leaving his employment in the Welsh Development Agency to become a financial consultant to the Parrot Corporation, and what steps he has taken to renegotiate contracts of service of executives of the Welsh Development Agency to ensure that a suitable interval of time elapses before an executive can be employed by companies who have obtained loans or grants from the Welsh Development Agency.

The terms of employment of WDA employees are a matter for the board of the agency and my approval for any arrangements between former agency employees and other bodies is not required. I understand that since October 1983 the agency has included a clause in the contracts of certain senior staff on their appointment requiring the permission of the board to be obtained before accepting appointments within two years of leaving the agency.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he last visited the offices in Gwent of the Parrot Corporation and when he last met Parrot executives, when he proposes to have discussions with Parrot concerning the corporation's recent financial difficulties and its proposed board changes, how many employees of Parrot are at work in South Wales, how much in EEC loans and cash Parrot has received; how much cash and loans Parrot has received from Her Majesty's Government; and if he will make a statement concerning the financial affairs of the Parrot Corporation.

I have not visited the offices of the Parrot Corporation. I met a senior executive of the corporation on one occasion, in September 1983 and I met the chairman last month. The company employs 86 people at Cwmbran. It has received an ECSC loan of £2·5 million on which my Department has provided exchange risk cover. Apart from WDA funds and guarantee, the company has accepted an offer of regional selective assistance of £1 million of which £500,000 has been paid to date together with £274,000 in regional development grant.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many Welsh Development Agency advance factories were untenanted at the latest available date.

The Welsh Development Agency had 510 untenanted advance factories at 30 September 1985. Of these, 125 units were already allocated to prospective tenants and the future use of six units was being decided. There were 379 advance factories vacant and available for letting.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will make a statement concerning the qualifications by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the accounts of the Welsh Development Agency, what discussions he has had with the Comptroller and Auditor General on this matter; and what talks he plans with the chairman of the Welsh Development Agency;(2) if, in the light of the qualification of the accounts of the Welsh Development Agency by the Comptroller and Auditor General, he proposes to discuss the valuation of the property portfolio of the Welsh Development Agency with the chairman of the Welsh Development Agency and the Comptroller and Auditor General, what action he proposes, and if he will make a statement.

There is nothing I can usefully add to the two letters which have already been sent to the hon. Gentleman explaining the background to the Comptroller and Auditor General's comments. I have not discussed the matter with the Comptroller and Auditor General and I have no plans to do so with the chairman of the Welsh Development Agency. My officials are currently in discussion with the WDA concerning a review of the useful life of its factories and consequential changes in depreciation policy in preparation for the publication of the WDA's 1985–86 annual accounts.