HC Deb 15 December 1980 vol 996 cc14-5
13. Dr. Ifor Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to visit West Glamorgan to examine at first hand the present industrial situation in that area.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

I have at present no plans to do so.

Dr. Davies

When the right hon. Gentleman does visit West Glamorgan and meets some of the new industrialists in the valleys, particularly the Lliw Valley and Pontardawe Valley, he will be told of their concern about the future as a result of the downgrading of development area status. Having regard to the Velindre announcement, will he now reconsider urgently designating the whole of West Glamorgan as a special development area?

Mr. Edwards

I simply repeat what I told the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Coleman) earlier. We have said that we shall keep these questions under review. Clearly, as the situation may change in that area, further thought must be given to the representations that have been made.

Mr. Denzil Davies

Is the Secretary of State aware that, as a result of the British Steel Corporation reorganisation plans for tinplate, unemployment in Llanelli could well rise to 15 per cent.? How much higher does it have to go before the right hon. Gentleman gives us back development area status and special development area status, which he took away?

Mr. Edwards

I have already said twice this afternoon that the changes taking place in that area will have to be considered and that the Government will review the development area status of the areas most affected by the changes.

Mr. Alan Williams

How does the Secretary of State explain the fact that, with half the unemployment in West Glamorgan concentrated in Swansea and with the percentage of unemployment being only 1½ per cent. below that of Port Talbot, which is a special development area, Swansea not only is not a special development area but is not even a development area? Indeed, it is ranked in the lowest tier—an intermediate area.

Mr. Edwards

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, because he was present at a meeting when these issues were discussed with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, that the changes in development area status were made when those were not the figures. We have said that if the position changes permanently we shall reconsider the grading. I have already given three undertakings this afternoon that that is exactly what we shall do.

Mr. Anderson

But these gradings have been considered, reviewed and monitored since July of last year. Will the Secretary of State go further and say that because of the disproportionate effect of the corporate proposals on West Glamorgan—which has roughly half of the total Welsh job losses—he will be geared to making an immediate announcement if, by the end of January, the Government endorse the recommendations of Mr. MacGregor?

Mr. Edwards

The corporate plan was presented only on Friday and has not yet been considered by the Government. The details of the plan and its consequences for regional policy are matters that the Government will be considering urgently in the coming weeks.

Mr. Wigley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Secretary of State for Wales—unwittingly, perhaps—misled the House—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman wait 10 minutes and raise his point of order at the end of Question Time?


Mr. Wigley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. At Question Time, on the very important subject of the report of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs on the matter of unemployment in Wales, the Secretary of State indicated the likelihood of an early debate in the House after Christmas. In fact, a letter which I received today from the Leader of the House states: There is little prospect of timetabling a debate on the Floor of the House in the first few weeks after the recess", and it suggests that such a debate should be in the Welsh Grand Committee. I believe that it is right that the House should have this on the record formally and express its dismay and disgust at the way in which it is treated.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) will not expect me to comment any further on his point of order other than to say that I was generous and that I realised that he wanted to get his point on the record.