§ 7. Mr. Ifor Davies
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what progress has been made in connection with further industrial development in Wales in addition to the Ford development at Waterton.
§ Mr. John Morris
Since the Ford announcement last September, work has started on the Hoover extension at Merthyr Tydfil to provide, in due course, nearly 3,000 additional jobs In the whole of Wales, 50 Government factories with a total area in excess of 600,000 sq. ft. have been formally or provisionally allocated, 60 offers of financial support have been made to provide 3,500 jobs, and applications are under consideration which could provide a further 2,600 jobs.
§ Mr. Davies
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that encouraging reply, which is an indication of the confidence of Ford in the quality of Welsh workers. Is he aware that there is a very close connection between the car industry and the steel industry, particularly as regards the quality of steel, which affects both industries? Is he further aware of the unanimous decision taken last Thursday by the Steel Development Committee for West Wales calling for immediate investment in a new mill at Port Talbot with a view to the quality of steel? Will he remind the British Steel Corporation and the Secretary of State for Industry of the commitment in the House in July 1976 that this investment would be proceeded with immediately?
§ Mr. Morris
If my advice had been followed in July 1976, that mill would have been well under way by now. It is a matter of deep regret that the matter was not taken up by the BSC at the time. I am concerned naturally about the quality of steel, both for tinplate and for the motor industry, and I know also that the decision, subject to manning agreements, to invest in continuous casting, amounting to £80 million to £100 million, at Port Talbot has been very much welcomed.
§ Mr. Wigley
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman recall the debate in the Welsh Grand Committee when the question of stimulation of industry by the WDA was raised, and hon. Members on both sides pressed for greater risk-taking by the Agency? Has he since had the opportunity to discuss with the Chairman of the WDA the opportunities for that body to stimulate industrial development in Wales by taking a greater equity stake and bearing greater risk?
§ Mr. Morris
The WDA continually looks out for opportunities to take investment by way of equities in firms. The amount that it has taken up so far is, as I recall it, about £7 million. Month after month, when I meet the chairman and chief executive of the board, this is one of the matters I discuss with them. I met the full board less than a fortnight ago.
§ Mr. Hoyle
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that equally important as employment to Wales is the environment? Will he therefore ensure that the contract for the dangerous chemical Kepone, which is being shipped by the Allied Chemical Corporation of America to this country and is being disposed of by Re-Chem International at Pontypool, does not go ahead? What is dangerous to the American people is equally dangerous to the Welsh people.
§ Mr. Morris
That does not arise out of the Question. If my hon. Friend will put down a Question, I will see that he gets a proper answer.