§ 2. Mr. Barry Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Wales by what percentage unemployment has increased in the Deeside travel-to-work area, Clwyd and Wales since May 1979.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
Between May 1979 and February 1982 unemployment in the Deeside TTWA, Clwyd and Wales increased by 186.9 per cent., 113.9 per cent. and 110.6 per cent., respectively.
§ Mr. Jones
What urgent and decisive assistance will the right hon. Gentleman give to save the 120 jobs at Abbey Mill, Greenfield, bearing in mind that the management has invested £500, 000 in new machinery and that the shop floor has boosted productivity significantly? How safe are the remaining 250 jobs at the Flint (Deeside) Courtaulds mill, bearing in mind that this weekend a further devastating 59 redundancies were announced? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that monetarism is hanging like a curse over North-East Wales and that we look to him to save our economy?
§ Mr. Edwards
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that that corner of North-East Wales gets the maximum possible financial assistance, and it is attracting some important new industrial development to the area.
I shall be having a meeting with the chairman and senior management of Courtaulds in the near future, at which I intend to discuss the prospects for the various Courtaulds plants.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer
Has the recent Budget of my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought effective help to industry? Is my right hon. Friend aware of the calculation that the net value of this help to industry in Wales is in the neighbourhood of £50 million and in Clwyd is probably £8 million?
§ Mr. Edwards
I cannot confirm the accuracy of any specific figures as they may be broken down. What we have is the value of the industrial package to industry as a whole. However, I can confirm that it is substantial and that it may be consistent with the kind of figures that my hon. Friend spelt out.
The energy package, for example, will be of considerable importance to a large number of major Welsh employers.
§ Mr. Alec Jones
Do not these figures show the scale of disaster that has befallen Deeside, Clwyd and, indeed, the whole of Wales, where now we have one in six of our 4 people out of work? Is it Government policy ever to return to full employment? If so, when are we likely to get there, how many jobs are needed before we get there, and what is the Secretary of State doing about it?
§ Mr. Edwards
The right hon. Gentleman should know by now that to proclaim enormous reflationary packages, which is apparently the policy of the Labour Party, is not a sure road to future employment. We saw that in the record of the Labour Government. I do not underestimate the extent of what has happened in Clwyd, but we saw even more substantial percentage increases in unemployment in places such as Ebbw Vale during the period of the Labour Government. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his recent Budget, has reinforced the important general economic factors that are beginning to take effect—the fall in world oil prices and lower interest rates.
§ Mr. Wigley
Does the Secretary of State accept the significance of what he said to the whole of North Wales? An increase of 186 per cent. in unemployment in Clwyd and the fact that it gets the maximum possible incentives for industry make it next to impossible to develop industry further west. The new road will not be completed until 1988–89. In the meantime, we need direct investment. Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the effects on Clwyd and the rest of North Wales and get something moving in that direction?
§ Mr. Edwards
It is because we recognise the problems of the remoter areas that we attach such enormous importance to our road programme, which we have maintained throughout the period of economic stringency, and why recently we set in motion a chain of road developments to improve communications to Gwynedd, including the most recent one for Anglesey, initiated only last week.