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Investment (West Wales)

Volume 174: debated on Monday 18 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the opportunities for inward investment to west Wales.

I understand that Dyfed and West Glamorgan have already secured 29 projects involving £106 million worth of inward investment. I have no reason to believe that west Wales will not continue to build on the very satisfactory level that has been achieved.

I welcome my right hon. Friend to his new post. We were delighted to see him in Pembrokeshire last month when he opened the Pembrokeshire college. He will be aware from discussions on that occasion how important it is to bring inward investment to west Wales, where unemployment rates are higher than in the rest of Wales. Does he agree that the Welsh Office could do more by encouraging trade with Portugal, Spain and Ireland, which would certainly help that part of the country?

I welcome the opportunity given to me by my hon. Friend of securing discussions with his local authority on the need to promote that part of Wales more actively. I should like to hear more specific proposals about the counties that he mentioned. Dyfed and West Glamorgan have certainly done extremely well in substantially increasing the amount of inward investment compared with last year.

Does the Secretary of State agree that while inward investment is important, protecting existing investment is probably more important? Will he assure the House that the Welsh Office and the Welsh Development Agency will commit their resources fully to trying to preserve, and to find a buyer for, the optical factory in Kidwelly which employed 200 people and which has been closed? That factory produced 40 per cent. of the United Kingdom's lenses. Will the right hon. Gentleman and his Department do everything that they can to find a buyer for the factory?

The right hon. Gentleman has already been in touch with me and my office about the specific case that he mentions and I will readily respond to the various suggestions that he has made. I have asked for a full report on the latest position. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman's first point, I should make it clear that just as the creation of new jobs is important, so is the safeguarding of existing jobs.