Skip to main content

Labour Statistics

Volume 520: debated on Wednesday 8 December 2010

2. What recent discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on the level of employment in Wales. (28251)

7. What recent discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on the level of employment in Wales. (28256)

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on the level of employment in Wales. I am pleased that for the past three months in Wales, unemployment figures have fallen while employment has risen—positive signs that our approach is working.

Nobody would wish to be complacent, but does my right hon. Friend agree that the good news on employment in Wales is an indication that the hard choices we have made about the economy are working for Wales?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we have had to make hard choices. We are rebalancing and strengthening the economy by cutting the mountain of debt that the previous Government left us, in order to improve our economic prospects and ensure that more jobs can be created in Wales and across the United Kingdom.

My birthplace of Anglesey is no stranger to the difficult economic times we have had, particularly given the loss of hundreds of jobs at Anglesey Aluminium Metals. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to encourage employment on Anglesey and across north Wales?

I am sure that hon. Members from all parts of the House agree that the job losses at Anglesey Aluminium Metals were a great blow to the Anglesey economy. I am delighted—and, as an Anglesey boy, my hon. Friend will know—that the life of Wylfa power station has been extended by two years. The site is one of eight across the UK that have been shortlisted for future nuclear generation. That would ensure good employment for the people of Anglesey and north Wales, and I am sure that all hon. Members hope it will come to fruition.

Of course, those decisions about Anglesey were taken by the Labour Government and supported by the excellent MP, my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen). I wish the Secretary of State and all at the Wales Office festive greetings. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates show that the actions of her Government will result in tens of thousands of public sector job losses in Wales. How many of those will involve women?

I wish the shadow Secretary of State a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year, and I thank him for his kind greetings. We are certainly not complacent and any job losses are to be regretted. We were pleased, however, that the OBR’s original 490,000 forecast for the reduction in public sector staff came down to 330,000 in last week’s forecast. I am sure that he will want to welcome that reduction of 160,000.

I find it astonishing that the Secretary of State has no idea of the number of women in Wales who will lose their jobs as a result of the public sector cuts implemented by her Government. Women make up fully three quarters of public sector workers in Wales, including at Newport passport office, which is being so shamefully closed. The highly respected Fawcett Society is so incensed at the punitive impact on women of Government cuts that it even tried to challenge them in the High Court. As the first woman Secretary of State for Wales, is she proud of her Government’s attitude to Welsh women?

The Government have considered all the possible impacts on women, and many of the changes that we have made to support small companies, for example, will help women, because women are much more likely to work part time. The shadow Secretary of State has misled the House, and—

Order. The Secretary of State must not accuse any right hon. or hon. Member of misleading the House. She has a lot of experience, and I know that she will correct what she has just said.

Of course I will correct it, Mr Speaker. The shadow Secretary of State is possibly in danger of misleading the House, because he knows quite well that Newport passport office has not yet been closed and that we have already secured the front-of-house services for it, which will save up to 45 jobs. In 2008, his Government did exactly the same thing to the passport office in Glasgow, so I will take no lessons from him.