§ 11. Mr. Ioan Evans
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many workers were employed in manufacturing industry in Wales in May 1979 and at the latest available date.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
Quarterly estimates published in the Employment Gazetteindicate that 312,000 persons were employed in manufacturing in June 1979 and 219,000 in September 1982, the latest available estimate.
§ Mr. Evans
Does the Secretary of State realise that there is widespread despair in south Wales over the number of manufacturing firms that have gone out of existence in the area while the Government have been in office? It is known that Mr. Ian MacGregor presided over massive cuts in the steel industry when he was chairman of BSC. Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the rumour that Mr. MacGregor is to be transferred to the coal industry is creating a good deal of anxiety? Will the right hon. Gentleman use his good offices in the Cabinet to prevent that appointment taking place?
§ Mr. Edwards
I do not intend to speculate on public appointments from the Dispatch Box. In view of the hon. Gentleman's remarks about the need for manufacturing employment, I am sure that he will welcome the fact that today yet another United States high technology company, Align-Rite has announced that it will be establishing itself in the new industrial part in Mid-Glamorgan and will employ about 150 persons to produce photo masks for use in the production of microelectronic systems.
§ Mr. Barry Jones
If the right hon. Gentleman is sincere about the evils of mass unemployment in Wales, why are the Government moving towards the closure of jobcentres in Bethesda, Dolgellau, Glyn Neath and Llandovery for the trifling saving of only £11,000? Why are the Government prepared to dispense with these excellent ways of trying to help those who are unemployed?
§ Mr. Edwards
The hon. Gentleman should not seek to exaggerate the practical arrangements and proposals of the MSC in examining its facilities. The proposals concern part-time offices and only three employees will be affected by the proposals. This is hardly relevant to the figures that we have been discussing.
§ Mr. Alec Jones
The figures that the Secretary of State has announced show that the number of new jobs that he keeps talking about is but a drop in the ocean compared with the vast number of jobs that have been destroyed since the Government took office. Surely the decline in manufacturing industry in Wales shows clearly that the rate has been greater under this Government than under any Government since the war. Given this decline and the reduction in the number of apprenticeships for young people, what hope does the right hon. Gentleman see for young people in Wales in future?
§ Mr. Edwards
These factors indicate the dramatic nature of the change in employment that is happening worldwide and the move from manufacturing to the service sector. In high technology industry, which we are so anxious to attract to Wales, we see a good example of the positive aspects as well as the problems. Anyone who studies the issue will realise that there are more jobs to be created in the software sector than in the hardware sector of the computer industry. The recent arrival of new service sector jobs in Wales shows the opportunities that are there. We should not be aiming only for manufacturing investment of the old sort.