Skip to main content

Job Creation

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 5 November 1997

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


What progress has been made by the Welsh Development Agency in meeting its target in respect of jobs created being based outside the eastern M4 corridor and the A55 corridor. [12375]

One of the WDA's strategic targets for 1997–98 is to create or to safeguard 12,500 jobs within Wales, of which not less than 50 per cent. should be outside the eastern M4 and A55 corridors. The agency recorded 7,870 jobs created or safeguarded up to the end of September, of which 4,018—or 51 per cent.—were outside the eastern corridors. Recently, I met the agency's board and told it of my particular concern about the Pembrokeshire economy.

Will my right hon. Friend continue to keep it in mind that, in recent years, parts of Wales have suffered a battering, particularly my constituency of Preseli Pembrokeshire? Defence establishments and a Gulf oil refinery there have closed and the power station in neighbouring Pembroke has also been shut down. Will he do all that he can to bring inward investment to west Wales to tackle the local economic crisis?

I most certainly will. I am conscious of the fact that unemployment in my hon. Friend's constituency is 50 per cent. higher than the Welsh average. It is important that we use the resources that are available to us as effectively as we can. I have made it clear that the Welsh Office, the WDA, training and enterprise councils and local authorities should work together in partnership. That team approach is the only way to extend economic prosperity not only to Pembrokeshire but to the whole of Wales.

Will the Minister give us all an assurance that, as the WDA examines reconfiguring itself in relation to regional development agencies and so forth, all Members representing parts of Wales will be able to make an active contribution to that debate?

I have had discussions with the WDA and it is already discussing with the Land Authority for Wales and the Development Board for Rural Wales the configuration of the new economic powerhouse. As the hon. Gentleman already knows, I am more than prepared at any time to listen to any representations that he, or any other parliamentary colleague, wishes to make to me.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, surprisingly, one of the main impediments to the attraction of large inward investment to south-west Wales has been the shortage of large flat and suitable sites? Will he ensure co-ordination between the WDA, the Welsh Office and local authorities so that that impediment is removed?

I most certainly will. My right hon. Friend knows that the Velindre site, in which he has taken a particularly close interest, and the Cleddau Bridge site are two of the strategic sites that have been identified. I shall do all that I can to ensure that those sites are promoted for large inward investment.

It is all very well for the Secretary of State to talk about WDA targets for attracting inward investment away from the A55 and M4 corridors, but an article in one of today's newspapers mentions a damaging row between himself and the President of the Board of Trade about who should have the final say on aid packages to attract inward investment. Therefore, will the Secretary of State for Wales clear up this issue: who does have the final say over inward investment issues? Is it himself or the President of the Board of Trade, or will it be the Assembly?

The targets of which the hon. Gentleman is so scornful were set by my predecessor as Secretary of State for Wales, who is now leader of the Conservative party. I am quite happy to tell the hon. Gentleman the Government's position. It was clearly set out in the White Paper, which was endorsed in September. There will be an agreed relationship between the Department of Trade and Industry, the Welsh Office and the Scottish Office—a concordat will be established. That will be the basis on which the relationship between the DTI, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament will operate.