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Labour Statistics

Volume 84: debated on Monday 21 October 1985

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11.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many people in Wales are jobless; how many were jobless in May 1979; and by how much the jobless have increased since 1979 expressed as a percentage and as a total.

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what are the latest unemployment figures for Wales; and how this compares with the same period in 1979.

On 12 September 1985 there were 187,563 unemployed claimants in Wales. The estimated equivalent figures for May 1979 and September 1979 are 77,220 and 79,600. The percentage increases are 143 per cent. and 135·6 per cent. respectively.

On the subject of the Parrot Corporation, will the right hon. Gentleman guarantee that, through the usual channels, he will discuss the judicial figure whom we expect to head the inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman announced earlier today during Question Time? Regarding the disgraceful and frightening unemployment figures, can he tell the House why he has been prepared to join the infamous star chamber committee? Is he not the Prime Minister's chief hatchet man?

On the first point, we are dealing with an internal inquiry. I do not believe that the form of consultation suggested by the hon. Gentleman would be appropriate. Matters that could involve the judiciary are already subject to normal police investigation. On the subject of public expenditure, I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would recognise that we are interested in the choice and allocation of priorities and that he would welcome the fact that the Minister who has a wide area of responsibility should be taking part in those decisions.

Does the Secretary of State realise that these figures are the worst ever for the Principality, and that it is wearing the patience of Welsh people thin in that the Government appear to be doing nothing at all to try to ease the burden of unemployment levels? When will the Secretary of State pursue policies that will genuinely bring down the level of unemployment? Why is he pursuing policies that will increase unemployment, through closures at MAFF at Cardiff and Bangor and the Welsh plant breeding station at Aberystwyth?

For four years now we have seen growth of over 3 per cent. per annum. Within Wales, and particularly in areas such as those represented by the hon. Gentleman, we have seen substantial public sector effort. Public sector investment in the Clwyd area since this Government came into office amounts to some £350 million. The hon. Gentleman ought to know that Wrexham is now proving to be one of the most attractive areas for investment in Britain.

The hon. Gentleman should welcome, for example, the decision of Hilton Mining to take over the former Firestone factory, which promises up to 350 jobs, the further investment to be undertaken by Sharp and others in the area, and the fact that considerable proportion of those recently made redundant by Courtaulds have already found jobs. The hon. Member should welcome those indications that our policy is working.