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Mr. Corbyn : Close!

Mr. Cook : Of course, it probably was much closer than it would have been had the ballot been held before the many hundreds of resignations took place. What we were left with was a two-to-one rejection by the rump that did not resign when the negotiations started.

If the Secretary of State really believes that the dispute will be resolved only by the surrender of the union side, he will have to wait a long time ; in the meantime, the people who will suffer are the members of the public who have cause to call on the ambulance service. I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate immediately before the seven days round Christmas and the subsequent seven round the new year, which are the busiest days of the year for the ambulance men. It is customary for the London service to receive 300 calls per hour over Christmas and the new year ; at present, 50 police vehicles and 50 Army vehicles are available to them. How can they hope to deal with 300 calls per hour with such resources? Not only must the ambulance men rely on such rudimentary resources, but, regrettably, the management appear to have done everything possible to frustrate the efforts of the staff side to maintain an emergency service even while suspended.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East and one or two of his colleagues from the midlands have drawn attention to--we should be quite blunt about it--

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acts of sabotage to destroy the telephone links to ambulance stations. There is no other adequate description. It was vandalism intended to sabotage attempts to provide emergency cover. There have been similar attempts to prevent the London ambulance service from receiving emergency calls that people want to put through to it. Last Friday, my attention was drawn to what happened outside a private hospital, as it happened, in central London. The staff at that clinic were aware, as all the public in London were aware, that ambulance staff had taken the trouble to advertise the direct lines of their stations and were welcoming calls made on those numbers. Outside the private clinic, a window cleaner fell three floors to the ground below. He fractured his spine, a leg, his forearm, his pelvis and his ribs. The staff of the private clinic attempted to make a 999 call and were told to wait in the queue. They summoned two policemen from nearby and asked them for the number of the nearest ambulance station so that they could dial direct. The police officers advised the staff that they were under instructions on the highest authority not to release those numbers.

Is this the policy of the Government and the management side? If so, they are deliberately setting out to frustrate the service that could be available to the public when they have access to a police officer, who may frequently be on the scene of an accident and who would be able to summon skilled professional help. I do not think that it fair to force police officers to say, "No, we are not allowed to divulge this information." It took two hours and 10 minutes for an Army ambulance to attend to that patient, who was in great pain and had serious orthopaedic injuries. When it arrived, the people driving it were incapable of performing the skilled and proper lifting of the patient. That is serious because the improper lifting of a patient with a broken spine could result in paralysis for life.

The nation wants to hear the Government's strategy for resolving the dispute, and must increasingly view their intransigence with incomprehension. I shall give just two reasons for that. The first concerns the cost of maintaining the best professional ambulance service that we can hope to have. Three weeks ago, the Association of London Authorities produced figures which show that, in the first three weeks of the dispute, the additional cost of police cover was £1.25 million. Another three weeks have passed, so we can double that figure. The police vehicles alone have cost £2.5 million. There are also the Army vehicles, so we can double the £2.5 million. The additional cost of emergency cover in London for the past six weeks is therefore £5 million--all to avoid a settlement that would cost only £10 million. The Government have spent almost as much on providing emergency cover as they would need to settle the dispute. The second reason why the public must regard the Government's stance with incomprehension is the political cost to the Government. The Minister, who is a sensitive and thoughtful man, must be aware of that. The truth is that the ambulance staff have received overwhelming support. My hon. Friend referred to the petition presented to the House on Friday. It is the largest petition ever presented to the House. I understand that 5 million signatures have been collected--including those presented

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last week and those collected since then. Every week, support for the ambulance staff grows, while support for the Government's case becomes weaker.

Ministers may be concerned about the political damage that they will suffer if they are seen to be defeated, but that will be as nothing compared with the political damage that will be caused to the Government if they are seen to defeat and humiliate the ambulance staff.

This is not the place to negotiate the dispute. I would not expect the Minister to attempt to negotiate the dispute and announce a settlement tonight, but I urge him and the Secretary of State to get round the table and negotiate directly with the ambulance staff, not through intermediaries who have no room for manoeuvre. If the Secretary of State continues to refuse to do that, the nation is likely to conclude that the Government are not interested in resolving the dispute but wish to play it through to the bitter end. I believe that that is a dereliction of their duty for which the nation will not forgive them.

3.15 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Roger Freeman) : The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr Spearing) gave me quite an introduction when he said that he regretted the absence of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State as he thought that the Minister who was to reply to the debate was too junior to take any decisions. I shall try to answer some of the points that have been made and I hope that, on reflection, the hon. Gentleman will recognise that even the most junior Minister at the Department of Health shares responsibility with his Secretary of State for resolving such problems.

I share the view of the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) that in any industrial dispute it is important to avoid humiliation. Cool heads and patience are needed on both sides to resolve what is essentially an industrial dispute. It is unfortunate that in this case, unlike many other industrial disputes, the people who are suffering are the patients. They are people like the hon. Gentleman and myself. That is why it is particularly important for cool heads to prevail in encouraging further constructive discussion between the two sides.

The hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) said that no ambulance man or woman was on strike. He said that they had been locked out. On reflection, he will have to agree that the trade unions involved in the dispute promised to maintain emergency services throughout the country. That was a clear commitment.

Mr. Corbyn : That is what they are doing.

Mr. Freeman : If the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who intervened from a sedentary position, reflects further, he will recall that that was not and is not the case in London. Some men and women in the London ambulance service have not agreed to operate normal radio procedures.

Mr. Corbyn : Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Freeman : No. I wish to finish the point I was making. I have some 11 minutes to answer the points made in the debate.

Mr. Corbyn : Name one station.

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Mr. Freeman : Let me explain what I mean. When an ambulance service is provided for a region or a metropolis, it needs to be properly co-ordinated and run. An ambulance service cannot be run by individual crews from individual stations. It has to be properly co- ordinated, and it needs a control room with management who can use flexibly the crews at disposal.

Where that is not the case--where normal radio contact is not being operated and ambulance men and women are not prepared to work with qualified ambulance men and women from other stations--the service breaks down. Outside London, some crews in some places have taken patients requiring emergency treatment not to the right hospital but to the nearest accident and emergency department--not to where they were directed but where they wished to take the patient.

In that situation, the normal emergency service breaks down. It cannot be controlled properly from a central location and one has anarchy, in the organisational sense that individual ambulance crews may be willing to operate a service as they define it, but it is not properly run and co- ordinated.

That is what an emergency service is, and in certain parts of the country it is not being offered. That is why the police, Army and voluntary organisations are providing that emergency service. I regret it, but that is the position.

The hon. Member for Coventry, South-East also asked about the pay formula ; by inference he wished the ambulance men and women, the unions, to have a pay formula linked to the fire fighters, and presumably to the fifth-year fire fighters. That was rejected by Clegg, as the hon. Gentleman will recall, and I have not heard the hon. Member for Livingston commit a future Labour Government to a pay formula that would link ambulance men and women to fire fighters.

Mr. Cook : I am happy to take this opportunity to make it clear that we have said, and are on record as saying, that we would accept the case for a mechanism which would provide for guaranteed annual increases for the ambulance service along the same lines as was resolved in the fire fighters' dispute. Whether that would provide a precise link with fifth- year firemen or with something else is a matter on which we have an open mind and about which we would wish to negotiate when we are in the Minister's position. But there is no doubt about our commitment to a mechanism, and I am sure that were the present Government to make the same commitment, the dispute could be resolved in time for Christmas.

Mr. Freeman : The hon. Gentleman will admit that that is not quite pay comparability using the fire fighters or the police as comparators. The hon. Gentleman spoke about some form of mechanism, but he did not commit a future Labour Government to the request of the unions involved for strict pay comparability through some kind of formula with the fire fighters.

The hon. Member for Newham, South said that the ambulance service was demand-led. The hon. Member for Livingstone, I am sure, accepts that the hospital and community health services are--and have been since the Labour Government of 1976--cash-limited, and that the pay and other operating costs of the ambulance service would be cash-limited in the sense that they would be funded from that part of the Vote which was cash-limited.

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Hence, the argument of the hon. Member for Newham, South is not consistent with the position that the hon. Member for Livingston has taken and would be likely to take if he were responsible for the Health Service. It cannot be financed as a demand-led service such as unemployment benefit or the prescription of drugs by the family practitioner service. It is cash-limited because it is part of the hospital and community health services and a judgment must be made about the relative priorities within the Vote.

The hon. Member for Newham, South asked about privatisation. The Government have made no comment about policy towards privatising all or part of the ambulance service. But I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the Northumberland service. I think that he will agree that, where the non- emergency portion of the service there is provided by a private company under contract, it appears to work satisfactorily. I am not aware of any criticisms being advanced tonight about that service. There is a similar service in another district in England.

Mr. Spearing : Leaving aside the non-emergency service, surely the emergency service must be demand-led. The Orcon standards have been set by the Department and sufficient vehicles and personnel must be provided so that those standards are implemented. The same applies to the fire-fighting service.

The Minister has talked about privatisation. Is he telling us that what might work in largely rural Northumberland might be applicable to London? I take it that the hon. Gentleman is not denying that there are moves towards privatisation. South West Thames regional health authority has already sent out circulars, and he knows that it has done so on the basis of the White Paper.

Mr. Freeman : As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Health Service is not managed by the Department of Health. It is managed by--

Mr. Spearing : Mr. Nichol.

Mr. Freeman : No. It is managed by individual constituent units of the National Health Service. The hon. Gentleman knows that as well as I do.

The hon. Member for Livingston asked about the Government's strategy. In the few minutes that remain for this debate, I shall deal briefly with the pay offer that is on the table and our strategy. The hon. Gentleman is familiar with the offer made by Mr. Duncan Nichol, the chief executive of the NHS management executive. The offer has been rejected so far. The offer that emergency crews will be on full pay if they work to trade union guidelines over Christmas has been rejected.

It is said that there has been no new offer, so what is the strategy? The hon. Gentleman will know that the Government have moved significantly on pay since the 6.5 per cent. offer, which was accepted buy NUPE during the summer. It was agreed to by NUPE negotiatiors for 150,000 NHS staff and subsequently rejected by their members. Since the negotiations in the summer, there has been a significant movement by the Government and none in recent months by Mr. Poole, who is still asking, as I understand it, for 11 per cent. and a pay formula.

The improved pay offer, which is on the table, would increase rates of pay from 1 April 1989 by between 9 per cent. and 16.3 per cent. with an extra £500 for paramedics.

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It includes an agreement to negotiate by 28 February a national framework for paying the intermediate paramedics. These are the main elements of the improved offer. Other elements include the consolidation of standby allowances into one rate, a joint review of the 1986 salary structure in the light of three years' experience of its operation and new London pay rates, which would give increases of between 10.9 per cent. and 16.3 per cent, resulting in increases in overtime rates of over 22 per cent.

The hon. Member for Livingston concluded by referring to public attitudes. I have to agree with him--I have seen this in my constituency and I am sure that other hon. Members have seen it in theirs--that the British public value the ambulance service. They regard it, rightly, as I do, as posssibly a lifeline when someone is struck down and there is an emergency, or when someone has to move as an out-patient from one part of the hospital service to another. I understand the public's attitude, but the Government have a responsibility. It is important that no NHS pay group is negotiated with on such different terms from others that they disadvantage other parts of the service. We employ 1 million people in the Health Service and it is important to remember that the majority of the staff have already settled for this year. The exceptions are the ambulance men and women.

I agree with the hon. Member for Livingston--I am trying to be constructive --that humiliation is an important consideration. The way to settle the dispute is not to put the ambulance men in a humiliating position but to get them back round the table, to negotiate properly and to do what we all want--care for patients properly.

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Welsh Economy

3.29 am

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke) : May I say what a pleasure it is to have you, Madam Deputy Speaker, in the Chair, albeit at 3.29 am? I am reminded of a fairly recent political event in the United States that appeared on C Span, the channel that covers Congress. After the session had finished, a member carried on speaking to the empty house. He berated his opponents and asked why there was no reply from them. Tip O'Neill, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, was so enraged that he demanded that the cameras should pan the empty chamber to show that the member was speaking to himself. Four hon. Members are present to debate the economy of Wales.

I welcomed the chance to debate the past 10 years because the Government have an excellent story to tell. Let us remember the situation in 1979. The coal, iron and steel and tinplate industries in Wales were heavily dependent on Government subsidy and were all chronically inefficent. The steel strike in 1980 led to a marked and dramatic reduction in employees in the industry. Within a short time, Llanwern, with half the labour force, stopped making a loss and doubled its production.

As a result of the Scargill strike of 1984-85, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of pits in Wales. However, they were not quite as dramatic as the reductions made under the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). The coal and steel industries in Wales have emerged from the recession fitter, leaner and profitable, and now produce at a price that the consumer is prepared to pay. We have seen an end to one of the problems that has beset Wales over the past 100 years--dependence on two or three basic industries, which meant that in the past it was very prone to structural unemployment.

Those days have passed, and now the Welsh economy is broadly based. It has diversified into many industries and is confident and strong. It will be able to face up to whatever is thrown at it in the future. Although we have experienced much hardship in Wales over the past 10 years, we have passed the worst by a long way and we are seeing considerable improvements throughout its economy.

We shall hear from the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy), whom I am pleased to describe as a friend outside the House, the usual Labour party gloom-and-doom speech about everything that is wrong with the economy. Before he speaks, it is worth remembering what some of his predecessors on the Labour Front Bench have said. The hon. Member for Wrexham (Dr Marek) said:

"The Government have massaged the figures. True unemployment is well over 4 million and may be approaching 5 million."--[ Official Report, 28 February 1984; Vol. 55, c. 165.]

The then hon. Member for Carmarthen, who spoke for the Labour party on Welsh matters, said:

"registered unemployment is expected to stay at 3 million well into the last quarter of this decade, the pace of growth for this year falls to just over half of that during the previous year."--[ Official Report, 3 March 1986; Vol. 93, c. 102.]

In fact, the pace of growth increased that year and in the succeeding year.

Having not learnt anything from that wrong prediction in 1986, the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside said:

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"There is no doubt that the Government have been massaging the unemployment figures downwards over successive months."- -[ Official Report, 2 March 1987; Vol. III, c. 612.]

When summing up the Welsh day debate, the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes), quoting the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown), said:

"The Goverment were clearly reconciled to the fact that mass unemployment in Wales would continue for years."--[ Official Report, 2 March 1987; Vol. III, c. 673.]

We know exactly what happened to unemployment in Wales. As those hon. Members were speaking, it was falling, and it has continued to do so for 42 consecutive months. The current figure is 6.9 per cent. of the working population in Wales--the lowest level since July 1980. There has been a considerable increase in the number of people employed in the Welsh economy. There has also been a larger increase in Wales than anywhere else in the United Kingdom in the number of people who have "got on their bikes", to quote my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) and become self-employed. Those people are responsible for the increase in investment and business in Wales.

When I was elected in 1987, unemployment in my constituency was 7, 381. A year later, it had fallen to 6,232. When I spoke in the Welsh day debate in the House at the beginning of this year, the unemployment figure for my constituency was 4,899. The latest figures--issued only last week by the Welsh Office--show that unemployment in my constituency has fallen to 3,366. It has more than halved in the two and a half years that I have had the honour to represent the constituency. Although I can claim no credit for that fall, I am proud to have supported the Government, who have encouraged that fall and enabled it to happen. Although the figures are still far too high, I recognise that the Government have the right policies to ensure that unemployment continues to fall over succeeding years.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside, leading for the Opposition, said in 1984 :

"Well before the end of the century I should like to see a reconstituted economy in Wales. I should like to see Wales regenerate and modernise her industries, diversify her economic base, and become successful and banish large scale unemployment."

I am sure that all hon. Members would say, "Hear, hear," to that. That is this Government's policy. As soon as Labour Members face a difficult challenge--pit closures or steel closures--they forget their grand words.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside, in that same debate, said : "The closure of any pit in Wales, certainly in the south-east Wales coalfield, will wipe out the gains of new industry in the south Wales economy."--[ Official Report, 28 February 1984 ; vol. 55, c. 168-9.]

In 1987, the hon. Member for Newport, East quoted the Western Mail, and said :

"Wales' economic future continues to look as bleak as a derelict coal mine or an abandoned steelworks."--[ Official Report, 2 March 1987 ; vol. 111, c. 672.]

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside, earlier this year in the Welsh day debate, when challenged about his policy, said : "On these Benches we say no to a free market."-- [Official Report 1 March 1989 ; Vol. 148 ; c.309]

It is no use the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside saying that he wants a reconstituted economy and, when the difficult decisions have to be taken and pits have to be closed and when new industries have to be encouraged,

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turn his face against the free market. It is the free market which has helped Wales over the past few years to revitalise.

The free market has been assisted by the Government. A former Member for Pembroke and Secretary of State for Wales, now Lord Crickhowell, started the process in 1979, and it has been continued and expanded by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

The figures for regional assistance in 1987 show a promise of 28, 000 new jobs. In 1988, the figure was 32,200 new jobs. To October this year, the figure had increased by 15,200 new jobs. In 1979-80 to 1989-90, the urban programme has meant more than £203.5 million for Wales, and that has safegurded and created 37,000 jobs. Urban development grants since 1982 have led to £37 million of grant, and investment of £173 million.

The Government have been active in encouraging existing and new businesses to take advantage of the opportunites created by the transformed Welsh economy. In 1988-89, the level of assistance to Welsh industry was increased by 39 per cent.--an extra £54 million--over the prevous plans, taking the total figure to £194 million, and a further increase to £212 million has been taking place during the present financial year.

The Welsh Development Agency has been part of the focus for the Government's programme and for ensuring that their policies are spearheaded. It was created in 1966, but only under this Government and in the past few years the WDA has taken on a major role in transforming the economy of Wales. It has adopted new efficient business principles for its own operation and it has been out into the marketplace to attract new business.

In 1987-88, nearly 2.5 million sq ft of floor space was let. That is equivalent to 7,000 new jobs. In 1988-89, there were 2.4 million sq ft of lettings, leading to more than 7,000 jobs and the budget for this year is another £130 million, which is 15 per cent. more than even last year. Total WDA investment in factory building in 1988-89 was £20 million, and it is expected to be £66 million over the three years of the programme. That is even more than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State forecast when he set up the programme. The WDA has been at the forefront of ensuring that the Welsh economy should be improved. It is encouraging that at its head is a dynamic young chairman, Dr. Gwyn Jones, who is leading the way and has been out to get new business in other parts of the United Kingdom and, even more important, from abroad. In his chairman's statement in the annual report for this year, he said :

"The Wales for the 1990s will be a dynamic country. Dynamism' is an unusual attribute to apply to a country, but the current level of activity in the Welsh economy makes it particularly apt." How different that is from what the chairman of the WDA said in the final year of the Labour Government :

"In a year in which the United Kingdom continued to be beset by economic problems, the work of the WDA, as a body concerned with stimulating industrial expansion, was inevitably constrained." That was said in 1979, the last year in which the Labour party was in power. Now we see what has been achieved by the WDA.

The present chairman's statement continues :

"The success that Wales has achieved in continuing to attract inward investment is quite remarkable, and WINvest has played its full part in this. We consistently gain some 20 per cent. of all the inward investment that comes to the UK

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whilst we have only 5 per cent. of the population. Such names as Ford with its £275 million investment--a record for the automotive industry in the UK".

It goes on to refer to Bluebird Toys, Star Micronics, the financial services initiative, NPI and Rothschilds.

Any Government would be proud of that record of achievement, but the work does not end there. WINvest is continuing under its new name to go out and look for new investment. In the current year, 98 projects were announced, with a capital investment of £1.12 billion and the possibility of nearly 14,000 more jobs.

Why is Wales attracting all that investment? We have a Government who believe in business. President Coolidge said :

"The business of America is business",

and the business of this Government is to get business. It is certainly not to run it, and they have been determined not to do that. They have been creating the climate of opportunity which has enabled business to grow and expand in Wales.

As members of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs, the hon. Member for Torfaen and I remember a quotation from our first report which was published in 1988-89. In its report on inward investment into Wales and its interaction with regional EEC policies issued in February of this year, the Select Committee said :

"We were told they concentrated upon the entire business package'"--

talking of overseas companies--

"encompassing the size and growth of the UK market and the ease of access to Europe from Britain, political and economic stability, the large size and rapid growth of the UK market, labour issues, (high productivity, relatively low costs, good industrial relations), a favourable tax regime, financial incentives, the welcome by government and the regions, the living environment and English as the international business language'."

Many of those qualifications would not be available under a Labour Government. We certainly would not have a favourable tax regime, good industrial relations, or economic stability. As a result of the climate which the Government have created, inward investment has increased at a tremendous rate. In 1988, Wales attracted 22 per cent. of all jobs in the United Kingdom which came from foreign investment. About 250 foreign-owned companies in Wales have created about 48,000 jobs.

It is rather ironic that, when the country has been investing heavily abroad to the benefit of our balance of payments, some people are opposed to foreign investment doing the same in this country and creating work. We live in an interdependent world economy, so how much better that each of us should have a stake in each other's economies and so make the prospect of war less likely. It is time that some of the little Britons who have argued in the past against foreign investment changed their policy. Since 1983, about £2 billion of inward investment has been secured--and at a steadily increasing rate.

Wales is now a first-class location for the financial as well as the industrial sector. The TSB Trust is embarking on a multi-million pound office development in Newport, and 500 jobs will come as National Provident Institution enlarges its Cardiff operation. As I have said, this change could only have been brought about by a Government who believe in business and who have created the right climate. Part of the Government's role in the past 10 years has been to ensure

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that the infrastructure--or as we normal people tend to call it, the roads and railways--has been improved to allow better communications. In Wales, the Government have undertaken 47 major motorway and trunk road schemes; 140 miles of roads have been provided.

Spending on new capital schemes of structural renewal and maintenance has exceeded £1 billion since 1979. Sixteen bypasses have been completed ; four are in place and 25 more are programmed for the 1990s ; and 16 miles of road are presently under construction, costing £270 million.

Perhaps the most remarkable development at the moment is the Conwy tunnel and the associated works on the A55. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister of State is keen on that. I recently went to speak in Bangor and drove there at 4 o'clock in the morning. I have to admit that I was astonished to see such a road cutting right across north Wales. Indeed, I had to cut my estimate of my arrival time by about 45 minutes as a result of travelling for the first time on the modernised A55. I only hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will bear in mind the pleas to uprate the A477 that I made to him in an Adjournment debate earlier in the year. We should like a similar road to go to west Wales.

Not only have we seen an improvement in the infrastructure ; we have also seen an improvement in our tax regime. When the Government came to power, we had punitive tax rates, which have now all been reduced. We have also seen a proactive role in those areas where both Government money and private money have been necessary.

Perhaps the best example of that has been the valleys programme--a programme for the people--which was launched by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales in June 1988. Not only has my right hon. Friend launched the valleys programme, but we now have the north Wales initiative and exciting developments throughout Wales, such as the Cardiff bay scheme, the Newport barrage, and the Swansea marina. Wherever one goes in Wales, one sees a Wales that is growing, modernising and improving.

I am proud that this Government should have been the Government who got Wales moving at last towards the 21st century. Part of that achievement has been because the Government have also recognised that Governments can do only a limited amount and that it is important that we encourage business by creating the right climate. The Government themselves are not the right force to choose the winners. The Government are not capable of running business. Business is too important to be left to Governments. It should be run by business men. The Government's attitude under my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has certainly paid off.

Before considering the future, I turn to two sectors of business that are of particular concern to my constituents. The first is agriculture. Representing as I do a rural constituency in west Wales, I am most concerned to see an improvement in the agricultural industry. I use the word "industry" deliberately because we often forget that we are talking about business men, people who have to make a profit and try to generate growth.

In the past few years, there has been a dramatic fall in farm incomes. There have been both major bankruptcies and smaller bankruptcies among family farms. I hope that the worst is over. It certainly looks as though it is in the dairy industry in west Wales.

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I should be wrong not to mention my two major concerns for farmers in this debate on the economy. The first relates to interest rates. It is no use denying that interest rates hurt a lot. Indeed, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "If they are not hurting, it isn't working." I only hope that we shall turn the corner very soon and be able to reduce interest rates, because I fear that, if we do not balance the economy properly, we shall end up with the economy in recession. We are all looking to my right hon. Friend to ensure that that fine tuning and balance is maintained. The second issue is that of the green pound. Earlier this year, the green pound was moving towards parity, but marked gaps have now appeared. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will take note of a recent letter from the president of the National Farmers Union, Simon Gourlay. There is a clear and pressing need to tackle the green pound gap during the next few months.

The other industry in my constituency, apart from light engineering, is tourism, in which also a major transformation has taken place. Until a dozen years ago, tourism in Wales was hidebound. The market had disappeared to Spain, Portugal and the Italian riviera. At last, there has been a major change in the industry. It has had to recognise that the days of the day tripper and the two weeks beside the seaside are over. Instead, there has been a massive growth in the second and third holiday market of two or three days. That is partly because of the increase in prosperity, but also as a result of the changing demands of clients as they wish to see more of their own country as well as touring abroad.

What do the tourists want? First--in parts of Wales this is very important- -they want proper wet weather facilities. That is not something about which the tourist industry, until recently, has been concerned. It is no use providing third-rate tatty entertainment, because today's customer is used to high-quality entertainment and leisure facilities. Anyone who produces only third-rate facilities will soon go out of business. They want variety; they want, when visiting Wales, not to be told that there is only one attraction on offer. They want to see a range of attractions, covering not only good scenery and history but entertainment and other forms of leisure. They want to stay in good hotels.

I welcome the fact that in recent years it has been a deliberate policy of the Wales tourist board to improve the quality of the hotel accommodation. If we do not improve that quality, we will lose the customers. It is important, especially in my part of the world that relies so much on tourism, that we should be aware of the importace of providing value for money and good quality accommodation. That is why I welcome the LEAD initiative of the Wales tourist board and the fact that Wales still has section 4 grants, unlike the remainder of the United Kingdom. As a result of an announcement earlier this year and in co-operation with the South Pembrokeshire district council, a £1 million project has begun in Tenby. The total value, with the £1 million from the Wales tourist board, will be £14 million. That is the sort of pump priming and local assistance of which I approve. It allows local authorities to put taxpayers' money where their mouths are, with private finance, and the Government to give a shove with a grant from the Wales tourist board.

It will be important to consider how we will tackle the problems that lie ahead. Governments can prime the pump

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