Job Insecurity

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 17 Mawrth 1997.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 12:00, 17 Mawrth 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent assessment he has made of job insecurity in Wales. [18832]

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

In spring 1996, according to the labour force survey, 8.3 per cent. of Welsh employees were in temporary employment.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Has the Minister had any discussions with Lucas Industries Ltd. over the closure of its Neath factory and the transfer of 170 jobs to Poland? Why does he keep denying that job insecurity in Wales is rife, when the number of temporary workers has increased since the last election by more than a quarter, and in his own backyard in the Welsh Office, it has increased by a half? He will soon understand a great deal more about job insecurity when the voters of Wales sack all the Conservative Members on 1 May.

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

The hon. Gentleman would do better not to prejudge the outcome of the election. As he is interested in international comparisons, let me point out that the number of people who are engaged in temporary employment is higher in France, Germany and Spain than in Wales. Furthermore, if he is concerned about the exportation of jobs, it is rather odd that he should be spending his time arguing in favour of a national minimum wage and the social chapter, which will destroy jobs in Wales.

Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink , Castle Point

Will my hon. Friend confirm that job insecurity is a function of unemployment—the higher the unemployment, the more insecure people feel about their jobs? The policies that lead to higher unemployment are those that the socialists would introduce, such as the minimum wage and the social chapter; policies that would see the expansion of the Welsh Assembly, which would deter inward investment to Wales, destroy Welsh jobs and increase job insecurity.

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Every week, we hear of new inward investment projects in Wales and of jobs going to the Principality. The United Kingdom stands at the top of the tree of performance in Europe in attracting new inward investment, and Wales is taking more than its proportional share of that. Wales has been pursuing that success under a Conservative Government—success that would come to an end if there were to be a change on 1 May.

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands , Merthyr Tudful a Rhymni

The Secretary of State said a few minutes ago that he was proud of the employment record under his Government. Is he proud of the fact that 40 per cent. of men aged between 50 and 64 are economically inactive? That is the highest percentage of any region or nation in the United Kingdom. Is he proud of the fact that, despite many representations, he and his predecessor have done nothing about one of the most serious social and economic problems that has faced our communities?

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

The Secretary of State and I are proud of all of the efforts that are being made to attract new job opportunities to Wales and, especially, to the hon. Gentleman's constituency. Significant investment has been made in the road network and in new job opportunities in his constituency. His constituents would not have had those opportunities under a Labour Government.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier , Harborough

Would not one of the best ways to increase job insecurity in Wales be to introduce some of the working practices of mainland Europe? For example, is my hon. Friend aware that it is illegal to work more than 80 hours a year overtime in Spain; it is illegal to work any overtime at all in Luxembourg without informing the authorities; and it is illegal to work overtime in Belgium without the express permission of the authorities? Are not those the policies of the European social model that is warmly advocated by the Labour party?

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

That is why industrialists and those who are running businesses in Wales have expressed their concerns to us about the proposal to sign the social chapter. The Labour party advocates an idea that would destroy jobs in Wales. We must not, and we will not, go down that route.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan , Gorllewin Caerdydd

Does the Secretary of State agree that he could reduce job insecurity in Wales by approving the Eurofreight terminal at Wentlloog between Cardiff and Newport? Unconscionable delays have been caused by his inability to make a decision, and thousands of jobs have been destroyed. Before the Secretary of State leaves Wales in his private plane to join the Tory leadership contest, will he undertake today to announce the decision on the Eurofreight terminal before the end of this Parliament? His uncertainty on the issue makes Prince Hamlet of Denmark look like General Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf.

Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

It is my understanding that the Secretary of State is awaiting a report from the Welsh Development Agency on that matter. [Interruption.] I recall that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), who is making such a noise from a sedentary position, said some months ago that it was the most important decision to be made in south Wales. He made that statement two weeks before the Secretary of State announced the biggest inward investment project in Europe by LG. That shows how in touch the hon. Gentleman is.