§ 1. Mr. Barry Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Wales by how much unemployment in Wales has risen since May 1979.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)
Between May 1979 and May 1980 seasonally adjusted unemployment in Wales rose by 11,800.
§ Mr. Jones
Do not those serious figures point to the need for an urgent change in Government policy so as to prevent Wales from suffering even more widespread and heavier unemployment? What, for example, will the right hon. Gentleman do to help the town of Flint, which is to suffer another 120 textile redundancies immediately, in addition to the existing 36 per cent. male unemployment rate in that town? What assistance, in the form of new jobs, will the right hon. Gentleman give Flint to help, for example, the 266 adolescents currently on the dole?
§ Mr. Edwards
Of course unemployment in the town of Flint is serious, but the town is part of a wider travel-to-work 1018 area in which the figures are not as serious as in the town itself. The hon. Member will be aware that there are about 3,000 jobs in the pipeline in the Flint and Wrexham travel-to-work areas and that we have launched a major programme of remedial actions in the area.
§ Mr. Wigley
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that 520 people, mainly men, joined the dole queue in Caernarvon only last week because of redundancies in three companies, putting the male unemployment rate up to almost 20 per cent? This is something that the Secretary of State has known was coming for a long time. What will he now do about it?
§ Mr. Edwards
I am aware of the serious situation in that part of Wales. I have recently discussed it, as the hon. Gentleman knows, with the local authorities concerned and will shortly be writing to them. We are at the moment urgently considering the regional policy decisions in that part of Wales, where the situation has changed seriously. However, it must be said that, in that part of Wales which concerns the hon. Member, the major problem lies ahead, when the Dinorwic scheme comes to an end.
§ Mr. Best
Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the major ways of assisting future employment in Wales is through the medium of advance factory building and that he is to be congratulated on the fact that 47 per cent. of new factory building in the whole of the United Kingdom will be in Wales? However, will he also look carefully at what the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) said, particularly about the ending of employment in the Dinorwic pump storage scheme, since that will have a significant effect upon the growth of unemployment in that area of North West Wales?
§ Mr. Edwards
My hon. Friend is correct to say that a major programme of advance factory building is going on. It would be wrong to think that there are easy solutions for the problems of North West Wales. No Government have found it easy to tackle the problems of that area. However, we are pressing on with the improvements to the A55 as an urgent priority. That is one major step that we can take to help that part of Wales.
§ Mr. Alec Jones
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with his first year in the Welsh Office—a year which has seen unemployment in Wales rise by 14,000? When can we expect some improvement in the unemployment figures as a consequence of Government actions? When are we likely to have an announcement about the uprating of those steel areas which have been badly affected? Finally, will not the right hon. Gentleman at least consider joining the "wets" in the Government who are now apparently contemplating urging the Government to make a U-turn—a U-turn which is essential if Wales is to be saved?
§ Mr. Edwards
The last time that the right hon. Gentleman stood at that Box and urged action at Welsh Question Time, it was to urge the lunatic course of the action taken on 14 May. I do not pretend to take his advocacy any more seriously this afternoon. It ill becomes the right hon. Gentleman to lecture us when unemployment under his Government went up by 15,500 in their first year of office and by 21,000 in their second year.
As for the right hon. Gentleman's only serious question, regional policy areas, that matter is being urgently reconsidered by the Government. However, we still have not reached a final settlement on the Llanwern redundancies.