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House of Commons

Monday 20 February 1989

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]

Oral Answers to Questions


Wales Tourist Board

1. Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the chairman of the Wales tourist board ; and what was discussed.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Walker) : I frequently meet the chairman of the Wales tourist board to discuss many matters of mutual interest.

Mr. Adley : I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and declare an interest in the industry. Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who have an interest in these matters have long felt that things in tourism are done rather better in Wales than in England? Will he accept congratulations on that? In view of the current review of tourism has my right hon. Friend discussed with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment--and if he has not, I hope that he will--the structure of tourism in Wales?

Mr. Roy Hughes : Declare an interest.

Mr. Adley : I have already declared an interest. Will my right hon. Friend tell me whether the Wales tourist board, or other agencies, will still be able to distribute grant as required to areas of Wales where development is still needed?

Mr. Walker : Tourism is of incredible importance to Wales in bringing in people who will look at the commercial and industrial prospects of Wales and, of course, in providing jobs and opportunities in rural and coastal areas. That is why the board's net budget for 1988-89 will be 90 per cent. more than it was in 1983-84. Section 4 assistance to the industry has tripled from £1 million to nearly £3.3 million during the same period and has been of great advantage to the economy of Wales.

Mr. Anderson : If we are to fill up the beds in our very welcome Holiday Inn in Swansea, we need, as the Secretary of State will be aware, to clean up Swansea bay. Is he satisfied that we shall not be able to comply with the EC bathing waters directive until 1995 at the earliest? Does he recognise the link between the directive and clean beaches in Wales as a whole?

Mr. Walker : Yes, of course I do. I am glad to say that immense capital investment is going into that, which did not happen under the last Labour Government.

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Mr. Harris : Given the common problems faced by the tourist industry in Wales and the more remote parts of England such as Cornwall, will my right hon. Friend tell me why on earth section 4 grants under the Development of Tourism Act 1969 are being suspended in England whereas, as he says, they are being tripled in Wales? What is the fairness of that?

Mr. Walker : In fairness, they have not been tripled in Wales this year, but over the past few years. Section 4 grants have been continuing in England. The report that my right hon. Friend has had will be discussed with those concerned and conclusions must be reached on the English tourist industry on the basis of information on inward investments coming into the English tourist industry. I have to make decisions on the Welsh tourist industry.

Welsh Coalfield

2. Mr. Denzil Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has any plans to meet in the near future the chairman of British Coal to discuss the state of the Welsh coalfield.

Mr. Peter Walker : I am in touch regularly with the chairman and deputy chairman to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Mr. Davies : When the Secretary of State next meets the chairman, will he tell him of the deep anger and resentment in west Wales that British Coal is walking away from the anthracite coalfield, with its enormous reserves of high quality and saleable coal? Will he urge the chairman to carry out a study of the economics of mining anthracite from small drift mines employing up to 75 people because many believe that mined in that way, anthracite could be extremely saleable and competitive in relation both to opencast operations and imports of Chinese coal?

Mr. Walker : I shall convey the views expressed to the chairman of British Coal and I shall also examine, within the Welsh Office, the suggestion about smaller units employing fewer than 75 people and what economic impact that would have. The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion is constructive.

Mr. Livsey : Will the Secretary of State note that British Coal Opencast has decided again to try for permission to work the Bryn Henllys site in my constituency, after an inspector turned down that application about a year ago? Is he aware that there is deep anger in the community that British Coal will attempt that again? Is there not far too much opencast coal in the south Wales coalfield, which is despoiling the environment?

Mr. Walker : In making decisions about opencast coal applications, one must consider carefully both the short-term and long-term environmental implications. I hasten to add that when I was responsible, as Secretary of State for the Environment, for such developments in England, I found that, with certain conditions one could improve the environment over a period of years. However, such applications must be looked at carefully bearing in mind the whole environmental question.

Mr. Raffan : Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the miners at Point of Air in my constituency for their dramatically increased productivity since the miners' strike? Will he confirm that over £130

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million has been invested in the coal industry in Wales since 1985, and that our record compares favourably with that of the Labour party which, during its last two terms in office, closed a total of 56 pits in the Principality?

Mr. Walker : I must correct my hon. Friend. In their last two terms, the Labour Government closed 62 pits. However, the closure of pits brings no joy to any party. Problems such as geology often affect such decisions. Although I deeply regret the closures of pits for mainly economic reasons as that creates problems, the increase in productivity has been helpful in that respect.

Mr. Ray Powell : Does the Secretary of State recall that when he was a Minister in the Department of Energy, he was responsible for several colliery closures in Wales? Does he realise that the mining fraternity has been reduced from 22,000 in 1979, to fewer than 8,000 now and that in my constituency seven collieries have been closed and 5,000 miners made redundant? Will he accept that his valleys initiative is not making any dent in unemployment in the valleys?

Mr. Walker : I know that the hon. Gentleman will be delighted that since the valleys initiative was announced, unemployment in the valleys has fallen faster than it has in the rest of Wales. In response to his anxiety, perhaps he will send me quotations of what he said during the period of the last Labour Government when 30,980 jobs were lost in the mining industry in Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones : Does the Secretary of State accept that the south Wales coalfield is apprehensive, especially in the light of the 1,500 jobs at the Cynheidre and Marine collieries and the 500 jobs elsewhere that are under review? Why has the Carway Fawr project been halted, after £34 million worth of investment? If the reason is geological, that is incompetence of the highest order, but if it is because of the prospect of privatisation, it is a scandal. Finally, since the coalfield and the valleys are synonymous, may I warn the Secretary of State about making statements tomorrow to his cronies in the Confederation of British Industry about the valleys initiative? He should come to this House to make a statement. What has he to hide? Is he engaged in a desperate election ruse?

Mr. Walker : I can quite understand the hon. Gentleman's neurosis. I shall make sure that I send him a copy of my speech tomorrow, which will give detail after detail of what is actually taking place in the valleys. When the hon. Gentleman has seen all the details, he should compare them with what went on in the valleys when he was a Minister. I should be delighted to see the comparison.

Tourism (Grants)

3. Mr. Gregory : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the number of applicants for section 4 grants under the Development of Tourism Act 1969, the number approved and the value awarded, for each year since 1980 ; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. Wyn Roberts) : With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall circulate the information in the Official Report and I shall also place a copy in the Library.

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Mr. Gregory : I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he confirm that hoteliers and those who so successfully manage tourist attractions in Wales will not suffer the problems that beset their colleagues in England because of the Secretary of State for Employment who has suspended section 4 assistance? Will he confirm that section 4 is of great value to the Principality?

Mr. Roberts : I can certainly confirm that there has been a considerable increase in the number of applications for section 4 assistance from 1980-81, when there were 160 applications, to the current year's forecast of 224 applications. Of course, the number of applications approved has increased over the years, as has the assistance offered. I can also confirm that the section 4 scheme is not being suspended in Wales. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment made his statement on 31 January suspending, as I understand it, further applications for section 4 assistance in England.

Following is the information :

Development of Tourism Act 1969                                                                                                                  

Section 4 assistance                                                                                                                             

                             |Number of applications      |Number approved             |Assistance offered £ million                             


1980-81 outturn              |160                         |43                          |1.6                                                      

1981-82 outturn              |190                         |113                         |2.2                                                      

1982-83 outturn              |158                         |55                          |1.6                                                      

1983-84 outturn              |171                         |56                          |1.9                                                      

1984-85 outturn              |224                         |87                          |2.2                                                      

1985-86 outturn              |239                         |162                         |3.5                                                      

1986-87 outturn              |207                         |145                         |3.5                                                      

1987-88 outturn              |168                         |119                         |2.5                                                      

1988-89 forecast             |224                         |150                         |3.4                                                      

Labour Statistics

4. Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales by what percentage unemployment has fallen in Wales since June 1987.

Mr. Peter Walker : Between June 1987 and January 1989, seasonally adjusted unemployment has fallen in Wales by 40,900, from 12.6 to 9.2 per cent., a decrease of over 27 per cent.

Mr. Butler : How does that fall compare with the fall in England? What contribution has the increase in self-employment made?

Mr. Walker : I believe that I am correct in saying that, in terms of a percentage fall in unemployment, the north-west of England, the west midlands and Wales have been the three best regions of the United Kingdom. There has been a substantial increase in self-employment during that period. I will send my hon. Friend the full details.

Mr. Roy Hughes : With Welsh coalfields in a near terminal condition, with massive redundancies in the steel industry, including a major closure, is this the time for the Government to come forward with proposals to double the toll on the Severn bridge, our main access point? Why does the Secretary of State not plead with the Chancellor to get rid of that additional tax on the people of Wales?

Mr. Walker : As I have pointed out many times to the hon. Gentleman, the toll on the Severn bridge was imposed during the period of a Labour Government. The toll on the Severn bridge was kept throughout the terms of all

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Labour Governments. Unlike the Labour Government, we will swiftly deliver a second bridge. When I read the headlines of the hon. Gentleman's local paper, I found that there is deep concern because there are not enough sites for industrial development. With the enormous demand that is taking place in Newport, the hon. Gentleman is benefiting more than most from the change in the Welsh economy.

Sir Anthony Meyer : Do movements in the unemployment figures result from differences between jobs lost and jobs gained? Is it not a fact that most of the jobs lost have been in industries belonging to the last century and that most of the jobs gained are in industries with a bright future?

Mr. Walker : Yes, Sir. In the period that I mentioned, there have been substantial further job losses in the coal industry and some further job losses in the steel industry. The diversity of the Welsh economy will be one of the greatest benefits to Wales in the years that lie ahead.

Mr. Wigley : Is the Secretary of State aware that the Welsh Development Agency has identified the television and film industry as one of the growth sectors to develop more jobs in Gwynedd? In those circumatances, is he aware that his personal veto this morning on the urban plan to provide the shell of a building for a new studio to develop the industry in Caernarfon is seen as sabotage of prospects for that sector? Is he aware that that is contrary to indications given by his civil servants, not only to the company but to the county council and to the Welsh Development Agency? As a result of his veto, the company stands to lose £50,000 to £60,000. Is that his contribution to the economy of the area?

Mr. Walker : I deplore the hon. Gentleman's emotional words. If he has evidence that any official in the Welsh Office in any way said to anybody that this grant would be made, he had better provide it. Whoever did so will certainly be seen by me. He has made an allegtion, and I expect him to substantiate it.

Several people--some of them will known to the hon. Gentleman--have made strong representations to me. If there were any priority in that area, it should be urban aid for Holyhead. I am glad to say that I provide that. The hon. Gentleman should perhaps speak to some of his own colleagues who gave me that advice.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the major ways in which unemployment has been reduced in Wales is through the Government's regional policy of relocating Civil Service and other Government agency jobs to the regions and Wales? Does he find it surprising that some Opposition Members are opposed to relocation?

Mr. Walker : Relocation has had one remarkable effect on Wales. We now have in the Principality the head office of the Export Credits Guarantee Department and the Patent Office. The Companies Registration Office is also in Wales. When I was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry most of those Departments were in London. I am glad to say that they are now in Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones : Instead of making pussy-footing radio statements on the 1,000 steel job losses, why did the Secretary of State not fight for them? There are now 3,000 steel and coal job losses ahead. On his first real challenge

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since his appointment, the Secretary of State has run away. The right hon. Gentleman is all talk and no fight. Does he not realise the bitterness of the steelworkers, who were in no way consulted? Before Christmas they were offered shares ; now they are offered the dole. The right hon. Gentleman has funked his responsibilities. Where is the meat?

Mr. Walker : During the period of this enormous fall in unemployment, there has been an enormous surge of inward investment and great diversification of the economy. The only role of the Labour party is to stir up any bad news that it can get hold of to give a bad image of Wales. The hon. Gentleman was a Minister in the Welsh Office-- [Interruption.] --10 years ago when major steel closures were announced. I am delighted that the Welsh steel industry is now modern and has a high level of investment. Will the hon. Gentleman pledge himself to renationalise the steel industry?

Hon. Members : Answer.

Environmental Research

5. Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to stimulate and encourage research into environmental matters in Wales.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Ian Grist) : The Welsh Office has commissioned a number of research projects into environmental matters related to my right hon. Friend's responsibilities in Wales, and with permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall circulate a list in the Official Report and place a copy in the Library of the House.

Mr. Michael : Will the Minister also circulate a list of those items that are being deleted and undermined by him and his right hon. Friend? When the Minister considers the proposed closure of research vessel support services at Barry, the destruction of the environmental research centre at Bangor, the threat to the environment from the Water Bill and the failure of Government Ministers to obtain a separate water authority for Wales, does he agree that the Secretary of State is presiding over the destruction of environmental research in Wales?

Mr. Grist : I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman took a little too long in preparing that question. I have read his speech in this House, in which he made most of those points, and some of his contributions in the Water Bill Committee, in which he made other points which have been well answered by my hon. Friend the Minister of State. The research vessel services from Barry are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. I understand that the move has been made for the best scientific reasons.

Mr. Morgan : The Minister is right to say that the Department of Education and Science is formally and departmentally responsible. But, in pursuit of joint oversight responsibilities for these facilities in Wales, did the Secretary of State for Wales plead with that Department on the ground of regional policy alone--as is pointed out in the early-day motion of the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Sir R. Gower), who is sadly absent today--that it makes no sense to move hi-tech jobs in

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Government research and development from an area such as south Wales to an overheated area in the south-east of England?

Mr. Grist : The hon. Gentleman, too, is repeating what he said in the debate. This is a decision by the Natural Environment Research Council and it is for the best scientific reasons. There is no other similar institute which has its vessel separate from its main body. Southampton university will be a world-wide centre of excellence for oceanographic research.

Following is the list :

Environmental research projects commissioned by Welsh Office                                                  

as at February 1989                                                                                           

Project                                     |Researcher(s)                                                    


Environmental Remote Sensing                |University College Cardiff                                       


Conwy Estuary Invertebrate Study            |University College of North                                      

                                            |   Wales                                                         


Evaluation of the Performance of            |Welsh Water Authority                                            

    pre-treatment facilities on marine                                                                        



Baseline Study of Acid Rain in Welsh        |University of Bradford                                           



Effect of Storm Water overflows on river    |Welsh Water Authority                                            

   water/biota quality                                                                                        


Investigation of the changes in Water       |Institute of Terrestrial                                         

    quality and quantity arising from       |Ecology                                                          

    upland drainage of afforested areas                                                                       


Hydrological impact of small-scale          |Institute of Hydrology                                           

    broad-leaved forestry on lowland sites                                                                    


The movement of sediments in Swansea        |University of Southampton                                        



Ecological modelling of the impact of       |University College Cardiff                                       

   atmospheric pollution afforestation,                                                                       

   soil type and land use                                                                                     


Organic compounds in Welsh Soils            |University of Lancaster                                          


Survey of contaminated land in Wales        |University of Liverpool                                          

Body Burden and exposure to heavy           |Singleton Hospital, Swansea                                      



Tree and Shrub seeding experiments          |University of Liverpool                                          


Survey of analytical capability for         |University College Cardiff                                       

   radioactivity in Wales                                                                                     


Development of a national system for        |Aspinwall and Company                                            

   monitoring wastes arising in Wales                                                                         


Minimisation of waste movement              |M. J. Carter Associates                                          


Effects of ozone and other gaseous          |Institute of Terrestrial Ecology                                 

   pollutants on Welsh vegetation                                                                             


Morbidity and heavy metal content of        |University College Cardiff                                       

   Welsh soil                                                                                                 


Whole Body Monitoring for Chernobyl         |Singleton Hospital, Swansea                                      



Radon Survey in Wales                       |National Radiological                                            

                                            |   Protection Board                                              


Assessment of Reclamation Methods for       |Richards Moorehead and                                           

   Contaminated sites in Wales              | Laing, Ruthin                                                   


Effectiveness of coastal defence struc-     |Polytechnic of Wales,                                            

   tures in Wales                           |  Pontypridd                                                     


Monitoring of East Pentwyn and              |Gwent County Council                                             

    Bournville landslips                                                                                      


Site specific monitoring of landslips using |Polytechnic of Wales,                                            

   BRE methods                              |   Pontrypridd, and Building                                     

                                            |   Research Establishment                                        


Site-specific monitoring of landslips       |Polytechnic of Wales,                                            

   using microseismic/acoustic emission     |  Pontypridd                                                     



Durability and performance of fixtone'      |Polytechnic of Wales                                             

   in coast protection structures           | Pontypridd                                                      

Coastal process monitoring, Carmarthen      |University College of Swansea                                    



Wales Terrestrial Rural Data Base           |University College Cardiff                                       


Welsh Landscape Study: the use of           |University of Nottingham                                         

   Remote Sensing to classify landscape     |  Wye College, University of                                     

                                            |  London                                                         


Deeside Thematic Geological Mapping         |British Geological Survey                                        


Wrexham Thematic Geological Mapping         |British Geological Survey                                        


Assessment of sand and gravel resources     |Department of Earth Sciences,                                    

  in the Lleyn Peninsula, Gwynedd           |  University of Liverpool                                        


Welsh Highways Landscape Study              |MWT Landscapes, Avon                                             


Study of Exposed Highway Rock and           |Richards, Moorehead Laing                                        

  Scree slopes                              |  Ltd.                                                           


A55 Ecological Study                        |D. Lovejoy and Partners                                          

Table file CO890220.002 not available

Wrexham and East Denbighshire Water Company

6. Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met representatives of the Wrexham and East Denbighshire water company ; and what matters they discussed.

Mr. Grist : I have had no recent meeting with representatives of the company.

Mr. Davies : Will the Minister confirm that the Wrexham and East Denbighshire water company will not be offered the protection under the Water Bill that is available to the Welsh water authority? Will he confirm, therefore, that it will be open to hostile and foreign bids and that such a bid could provide a foothold in the Welsh water industry for further takeovers? If protection is good for the Welsh water authority, why is it not good for the Wrexham water company?

Mr. Grist : The hon. Gentleman knows the answer to the first part of his question. As the company is worth less than £30 million, it does not come under the same rules as the water authority when privatised. But we have nothing against foreign investment in British companies, and I cannot think why the hon. Gentleman should take that line. I expect that he appreciates that about 30 per cent. of water in the United States is owned by French companies, and I have not heard the Americans yelling.

Dr. Marek : Will the Minister talk to the Wrexham and East Denbighshire water company? Is he aware that only last week there was another incident of water pollution where a known carcinogen, formaldehyde, was tipped into the river and only fortuitously the company's intakes were closed at the time? There is a general lack of belief in Wrexham that the Welsh Office intends to clean up the River Dee. When will the Welsh Office, and its agent the Welsh water authority, prosecute those people successfully and give the public the confidence that their water is clean and fit to drink?

Mr. Grist : The hon. Gentleman had better prove that it is not clean and fit to drink. I have no proof of that. The responsibility for the serious incident to which he referred was shared among several water authorities. I believe that further steps are being taken.

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7. Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on his Department's strategy for dealing with acute poverty and deprivation in the Cynon Valley and other districts with a high percentage of low-income households.

Mr. Peter Walker : It is difficult to answer such a question in the short time available for a parliamentary answer. As this Government are carrying out massive programmes of expenditure in the Cynon Valley in education, health, housing improvements, factory building, derelict land clearance, urban aid, regional grants and training, I will, with permission, Mr. Speaker, circulate the details in the Official Report and place a copy in the Library.

Mrs. Clwyd : Does the Secretary of State's statement today show an increase of 67 per cent. in the money that will be spent in the valleys of south Wales? That represents £7 million, which is made up of £1 million for inflation and £2.6 million for the garden festival, leaving only £3 million for all the valleys of south Wales. Is it not yet another of the Secretary of State's hot air balloons? How will it help the people of Cynon Valley--the poorest district in Wales, the district with most of the problems that have been identified in the surveys conducted for HTV by the Cardiff business school, and the area where 60 per cent. of households have incomes of £4,000 a year or less? Has the Secretary of State read the last sentence of the Cardiff business school report, which states :

"If, as we are led to believe, Wales is drawing on a new era, nobody has informed Mountain Ash about it."?

Mr. Walker : Although I had intended to publish my detailed answer in the Official Report, in view of the hon. Lady's long supplementary question, I shall place my answer on the record now. Since January 1986, the number of unemployed claimants has fallen by 27 per cent. Since 1984 regional industrial support has been provided towards capital investment of £79 million, with associated forecasts of about 3,900 jobs. More than £11.5 million has been spent on a broad range of training measures. The Welsh Development Agency has provided more than 500,000 sq ft of new factory floor space. Land reclamation covering 600 acres and costing about £6 million has been completed. Economic regeneration in the area has been supported through the allocation of more than £5 million of urban programme resources. More than 6,000 houses in the constituency have been improved.

All those things cost tens of millions of pounds. The hon. Lady's old trick of quoting one item as an example for all the valleys has not come off this time. I hope that everyone will read the full reply.

Sir Anthony Meyer : Is my right hon. Friend aware that the very ambitious urban aid programme that was announced today will be warmly welcomed and that there will be special pleasure that Clwyd has not suffered at the hands of south Wales, although we should have liked to see more projects? Is he aware that there will be general satisfaction with the help that he has given to St. Asaph business park, which is one of the best developments to have emerged in Rhuddlan for a long time?

Mr. Walker : The urban aid programme to the Principality is of particular help to north Wales. Although

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the biggest concentration of help is in the valleys, in total the programme will do much good, create many jobs and improve the environment throughout Wales. Our record compares unbelievably well with that of the previous Government who were responsible for such matters.

Mr. Murphy : Does not the so-called initiative for our valleys involve more fantasy than reality? What our valleys want are better schools, better hospitals and better housing. Does the Secretary of State not accept that our valley councils have lost more in rate support grant over the past 10 years than he has given them in new money in the latest package? Does he not also accept that much of his programme was going to come about in any event, that he has deliberately delayed the urban programme announcement, that six of our valleys are still not designated areas under the Act and that a proper revitalisation of the valleys would require massive and genuinely new investment spread over at least eight years, not advertising hype spread over three?

Mr. Walker : I do not blame the hon. Gentleman for making such a speech just before a by-election, but I am glad to tell him that tomorrow I shall go through every detail of the valleys programme and I look forward to the Labour party publishing beside each item what the Labour Government achieved in their last five years. I look forward to reading that comparison. I can only say that in dealing with derelict land, providing new jobs and building factories we dwarf anything that the Labour party ever contemplated.

Following are the details :

Since January 1986 the number of unemployed claimants in the Aberdare travel to work area has fallen by 27 per cent. Since 1984 regional industrial support has been provided towards capital investment of £79 million with associated forecast of some 3,900 new and 900 safeguarded jobs. Over £11.5 million has been spent on a broad range of training measures, including YTS and wider opportunities for women.

The Welsh Development Agency has provided over 500,000 sq ft of new factory floor space since 1979 and within its current programme the agency is planning to build a further 16 units. Land reclamation covering 600 acres and costing some £6 million has been completed or is under way or planned.

Economic regeneration in the area has also been supported through the allocation of over £5 million of urban programme resource since 1979 towards schemes submitted by Cynon Valley borough council. In addition this morning I have announced more than a further £1 million for 1989-90.

The Government have made a substantial investment towards the cost of improving the A4059 at Aberdare and Abercynon. Furthermore, the Welsh Office has supported the county council's proposal which led to the reopening in September 1988 of the passenger rail link to Aberdare.

On housing since 1979, work on over 6,000 grant improvement projects, costing £19 million, has been completed in addition to enveloping schemes on 450 dwellings at a cost of £3.3 million. Schemes are in hand to improve an additional 500 homes at a cost of £4.5 million.

In the last five years, £9 million has been spent on improving school buildings in the area, and an allocation of £800,000 has recently been made towards the cost of providing a 40-bed unit for the elderly at Aberdare general hospital.

Barrage Schemes

8. Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he intends to make any proposals to alleviate the impact on the ports of south Wales of proposed barrage schemes.

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Mr. Peter Walker : I am not aware of any direct adverse effects on port activities in south Wales arising from current barrage proposals.

Mr. Stern : Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a clear distinction between the proposed Severn barrage, which could severely affect all ports and port-related industries in and around the area, and other barrages such as the Cardiff bay barrage, which will have no such effect?

Mr. Walker : There have been full consultations with the port authorities about the Cardiff bay barrage, which is the one for which I have responsibility, and I do not believe that it will have an adverse effect. As for the Severn barrage, the proposal will need to be examined thoroughly before any conclusions are reached. Clearly, however, the port interests will have to be considered carefully before any such proposal is made.

Mr. Flynn : Is the Secretary of State aware that the Cardif business school has reported on the barrage and on the valleys of south Wales? Will he tell us why he refused to give an interview on the television programme referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd)? Is it true that, while refusing to be interrogated by the House and on television, he is carrying out government by press conference, as he is holding one tomorrow? Is it true that he is beginning to unravel? Is Peter the piffle artist becoming Peter the pimpernel, who is never around when there is bad news about?

Mr. Walker : As for that last phrase, the hon. Gentleman obtained coverage in this morning's papers, and I am surprised that he has repeated it for tomorrow's.

I remind the hon. Gentleman that when I launched the valleys initiative I challenged the Labour party to choose it as a subject for the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs. The then Opposition spokesman said that that would quickly be done, but I am still waiting for Labour Members to choose the subject for debate in the Select Committee. Perhaps they would like to choose it for the next one.

As for the television programme, I was asked to appear 36 hours in advance, having been sent the large number of documents. I said that I would be happy to appear on any television programme about the valleys initiative at any time.

Health Service

9. Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the present state of the Health Service in Wales.

Mr. Grist : Record numbers of doctors and nurses are treating record numbers of patients. The increase in resources that we propose for the Health Service in 1989 will enable the NHS to extend its remarkable record of achievement.

Mr. Howells : I am sure that the Minister is aware that the people of mid-Wales are succeeding in their concerted effort to raise £500, 000 to install a scanner at Bronglais hospital, Aberystwyth. I am sure that he is also aware of the view of the majority of those people that the Government should re-establish the Mid-Wales health

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authority. Will he give an assurance that he will consider the matter, and also tell us the latest developments on the building of the second phase of the hospital?

Mr. Grist : There are no proposals at present for the re- establishment of the Mid-Wales health authority. I was interested to hear the hon. Gentleman raise the subject of the scanner proposal, and I wish it the best of success.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : If any new hospitals are built in Wales, such as the East Glamorgan hospital, will the funding for those hospitals, in terms of capital costs, be entirely met by the Welsh Office or, as a result of last week's disclosure in Construction News, are we to take it that Treasury guidelines to introduce private sector money into such building will mean that the commitment from the Welsh Office will be less?

Mr. Grist : The hon. Gentleman should know that we are still awaiting the proposals of the Mid-Glamorgan health authority for the funding of that new hospital. When we see those proposals we shall arrive at a judgment. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have no intention to cut the necessary construction of new hospitals, such as that to replace East Glamorgan hospital.

NHS Review

10. Mr. Livsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the National Health Service review as it affects Wales.

11. Mr. Raffan : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the Government's National Health Service review, "Working for Patients", as it caters for the distinctive health care needs and circumstances in Wales.

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