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Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary concerning prospects for the steel plants in Wales; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: The First Secretary and I meet regularly and have held several discussions on prospects for the steel industry. We have also held meetings with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, with the Chief Executive of Corus and with representatives of the ISTC.
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I deeply regret recent job losses announced in the steel industry. This is a commercial decision for the company, but the Government and the National Assembly for Wales are working in partnership to do all we can to help those affected. We have put together a package of measures and the First Secretary has confirmed that he is seeking to set up an all-Wales taskforce to help deal with the immediate consequences of the Corus announcement and with shaping a longer-term strategy for assisting the areas affected.
The best contribution the Government can make to the future of the industry is to secure long-term economic stability based on low inflation and sound public finances. This allows business to invest and plan ahead with confidence. It is this consistent, long-term approach which is the foundation for steady growth.
Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary concerning the prospects for manufacturing in Wales in relation to (a) the strength of sterling and (b) the Comprehensive Spending Review; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: The First Secretary and I meet on a regular basis and discuss a number of issues including manufacturing in Wales. Overall, manufacturing output in Wales for the four quarters to the first quarter of 2000 was 2.9 per cent. higher than this corresponding period a year earlier.
The Government understand the concerns about the fall in value of the euro, but are determined to take a long-term view. Manufacturers who have suffered from the old boom and bust would not want a return to short-term quick fixes which put at risk long-term stability. The Government's careful handling of the economy across the UK will allow business to invest and plan ahead with confidence
The Spending Review supports manufacturing through a number of routes including the £530 million launch investment for the A3XX, which will be of particular benefit to manufacturing jobs in Wales. There will also be an important role for the Small Business Service and increased funding for commercial exploitation of science in supporting investment and innovation among manufacturing firms, especially SMEs.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many press releases were issued in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) this year to date; and what the total cost of the production and issuing of these press releases was in each year. 
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Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many press officers were employed in his Department in (a) May 1997, (b) January 1998, (c) January 1999 and (d) January 2000; and what the total expenditure on press officers by his Department was in each of the years concerned. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: From 1994 until the start of the National Assembly in July 1999 the Welsh Office Press Office had between eight and nine press officers. The Wales Office employed two press officers in January this year.
The cost of the Press Office was £319,000 in 1996-97, £318,000 in 1997-98 and £370,000 in 1998-99. Because there were only two press officers in January 2000, in the interests of confidentiality I am unable to disclose salary costs for this year.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the files compiled by his Department on the activities of Plaid Cymru between 1958 and 1973 which are filed as restricted in the Public Record Office, file reference BD-25/59; and if he will lift this restriction. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: The file to which the right hon. Member refers is one of a series of files containing general papers on various organisations, including the Welsh Language Committee, the Welsh League of Youth, the Welsh Advisory Committee of the British Council and the Council of Social Services for Wales in Monmouthshire and Plaid Cymru. I am advised that it contains a collection of press cuttings, correspondence with and about Plaid Cymru, and briefings for Ministers in connection with a meeting with the President of Plaid Cymru.
In common with other retained files the file is stored at the Public Record Office at Kew and will be released on 1 January 2004. If, however, the hon. Member felt the file should be made available sooner, I would be pleased to consider this with the appropriate authorities.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many staff are employed directly by his Department; how many were employed on 1 July 1999; and how he expects these figures to vary in coming years. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: The Wales Office currently employs 42.5 staff directly. One member of staff is a part-timer. The Department also employs a further four casual staff who are supplied by an employment agency.
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Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales by what means he intends to report to Parliament on his use of resources other than those which are by way of payments to the National Assembly for Wales. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: It is not normal practice of Government to publish daily Ministerial Duty Rosters. This Wales Office will ensure that it has sufficient cover through the summer recess in line with the requirements of the Ministerial Code.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) for what reason discounts were offered to Cardiff County Council on the transfer of land to Ferry Road as a result of the winding-up of Cardiff Bay Development Corporation; 
(3) what discounts were offered to Cardiff County Council on the transfer of the land to Ferry Road as a result of the wind up of Cardiff Bay Development Corporation. 
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