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Economic Activity

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

9. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the level of economic inactivity in Wales. (321816)

The latest labour market statistics show the economic inactivity level in Wales falling by 9,000 in the last quarter. This is the largest fall in the United Kingdom.

When one analyses the unemployment figures, one finds that 100 people a day were made unemployed in Wales in the three months to January of this year. Is the Minister not ashamed of that and of the lack of drive on fixing the Welsh economy?

Employment figures in Wales are higher than they have been for a long time and compare very favourably with the situation in Wales under the previous Conservative Government. The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about economic inactivity, which has fallen by 0.5 per cent. in Wales. That is enormously significant. I remember what happened to economic inactivity when the Conservatives were last in power: all the pits were closed, and a generation of the work force was thrown on to the dole and forgotten about. That will never happen again, under us.

Despite the worst global recession for more than half a century, the level of unemployment in my constituency is 57 per cent. lower than it was in 1992. Does the Minister agree that investment, such as the £635 million at RAF Valley, will provide apprenticeships and new quality jobs in the future, and that that would be under threat if the Conservatives ever came to office?

My hon. Friend is right to cite what is happening at RAF Valley and the defence investment that is taking place there. Such investment is not only happening with the defence training college at St. Athan; it is happening in many other parts of Wales, including the RAF Valley establishment in north Wales. That reinforces the fact that the level of employment in Wales is 100,000 higher than it was under the Conservatives, and we will continue to ensure that creating jobs is our priority.