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Labour Statistics

Volume 87: debated on Monday 18 November 1985

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many people are unemployed in Wales and in Clwyd; by how much this has increased since May 1979, as a total and as a percentage; and how many are long-term unemployed as a total and as a percentage.

On 10 October 1985 there were 182,734 unemployed claimants in Wales, an increase of 105,534, or 136·7 per cent., since May 1979. On 10 October 1985 there were 24,982 unemployed claimants in Clwyd. A comparable claimant-based figure for May 1979 in Clwyd is not available. In October 1985, 77,412, or 42·4 per cent., had been unemployed for more than one year in Wales, while for Clwyd the figures were 9,835, or 39·4 per cent.

In the Deeside travel-to-work area, 13,000 people are jobless, and manufacturing jobs have recently been lost at Deeside Titanium, P.D. Cans and at Catharall's Brick at Buckley. Will the Secretary of State urgently consider how he may make available the accounts of Buckley Brick, so that the work force may challenge the proposed closure? Does he know of the brick workers' discontent at the low redundancy payments being offered to them? How will he help the brickworkers at Buckley?

The hon. Gentleman will have an Adjournment debate on this and related employment issues later in the week. I suggest that would be a better time at which to discuss the affairs of the company. The hon. Gentleman listed job losses, but he might have listed the impressive number of job gains that have been announced during the same period. For example, there was another announcement of jobs created at Sharp, and the company to which he referred has announced some investment at Lane End, Buckley. He should give both sides of the story.

What would be the effect on foreign confidence, and hence employment, in Wales if a future Labour Government were to implement their proposals to spend an additional £51 billion in public expenditure?

I agree with my hon. Friend that it would severely dent the confidence of investors, who would recall exactly what happened when a similar policy was implemented by the Labour Government, who had to go cap in hand to the IMF, which cut capital programmes by 45 per cent.

How does the Secretary of State reconcile those terrible and tragic figures with the renewed boast of the Chancellor of the Exchequer about a week ago that Britain is in the third, the fourth or the fifth year of national recovery? Has Wales had a share of that national recovery? Will the right hon. Gentleman, even at this eleventh hour, stop the cut in regional aid that he is carrying through, which could only add to those terrible figures?

I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would welcome the growth in the economy and the fact that it is likely to continue in the year ahead, just as I hope he welcomes the fact that there has been a small reduction in unemployment in Wales during the past month. We have announced a range of measures especially to help the long-term unemployed. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will welcome the fact that the number of community programme places in Wales will increase from 9,600 in April to more than 20,000 places to be filled by June 1986. That is a sign of the Government's determination to meet the special problems of areas such as Wales.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, had it not been for his efforts and those of his colleagues at the Welsh Office, trotting the globe to entice foreign industries to come to Wales, and had not those industries come to Wales, unemployment in the Principality would have been much worse?

Hon. Members on both sides of the House will welcome the substantial inward investment that has taken place and the fact that about a quarter of all the inward investment to the United Kingdom for two years has come to Wales. That gives the lie to the absurd proposition of the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) that the Government do not have an effective regional policy.