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Mr. Hain: Indeed. The truth is that the facts speak for themselves. The facts are that under the previous Government people were pushed off the dole and on to incapacity benefit in record numbers to try to camouflage the huge amount of unemployment in Wales and throughout Britain. Also, when they lost their jobs in the pits, in Rhondda Cynon Taff and elsewhere, including Neath, there were no other jobs awaiting them. Now, if people lose their jobs, there are plenty of vacancies and they have the opportunity to reskill, retrain and move into work, as they have done by the thousand as the Welsh economy has been changing these past few years.
I am proud that not only is Cardiff booming, but throughout Wales, towns and cities such as Swansea, Newport, Wrexham and Holyhead are booming too. In north-east Wales we have Airbus, our industrial jewel. Many other world-class industries are also growing.
Lembit Öpik: On Hawarden, does the Secretary of State agree that Wales has the opportunity to specialise in aerospace, and that by being focused and strategic on a collective basis we could share the benefits of Airbus's unquestionable success throughout the wider economic base of Wales?
Mr. Hain: I thought for a moment that the hon. Gentleman was going to say that there is the opportunity to specialise in air flight. I know that he is a particular specialist in that area. I agree with his point. In north Wales, and north-east Wales particularly, there is a real centre of world excellence in the aerospace industry. That is on the basis of launch aid provided by the Government through the Department of Trade and Industry, a budget that would be axed by the Conservatives if they came to power.
Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con):
I am a great believer in manufacturing excellence and its spread. Typhoon, for instance, is manufactured in my constituency, but there will be a knock-on effect for smaller manufacturers throughout the United Kingdom, including Wales. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that the Liberal Democrat policy of
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scrapping tranche 3 of the Typhoon programme would jeopardise the manufacture of jet aircraft in this country for a very long time indeed?
Mr. Hain: I do not often agree with the hon. Gentleman, although I sometimes do so at business questions to give him a helping hand. However, he is right that it is disastrous to withdraw support from businesses, whether large businesses in the aerospace industry or small businesses. His party is committed to do so in England with its policy of abolishing the Small Business Service, and the Liberal Democrats will do so across the United Kingdom with their proposals to abolish the Department of Trade and Industry.
Only last month, there was another huge boost for Newport, with the transfer of an extra 500 quality permanent Prison Service jobs from England. That comes on top of 600 new Office for National Statistics jobs, which will be transferred to Newport from England.
Mr. Hain: I assume that the hon. Gentleman is going to welcome the Labour Government policy of transferring jobs from the congested south-east of England to Walessomething that he has been demanding for many years, and which we are now delivering.
Mr. Llwyd: Absolutely. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and applaud that move. I partly support the broad thrust of his remarks, but while Wales appears to be succeeding fairly well along the M4 and the A55, a huge area of the country is not doing so. I represent part of that land mass, and we have not seen any delivery of good new jobs, which is partly why the gross domestic product in Wales is going down instead of up.
Mr. Hain: Actually, that is not true. Let us look at the hon. Gentleman's own constituency, where unemployment has gone down by 55.8 per cent. under the Labour Government. Youth unemployment has gone down by 97 per cent., and long-term unemployment for the over-25s has gone down by 79.6 per cent.
I am certainly willing to hear plenty more about such things. However, I was telling the right hon. Gentleman about the lack of good-quality jobs. The hon. Member for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane) is always bleating on about low pay in Denbighshire, which is a
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problem. Low-paid jobs have been created, not good jobs. That may not be the case along the M4 and the A55, but a large part of Wales is not being well served.
Mr. Hain: I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making, as most of the investment has been of enormous benefit to south Wales, particularly the south-east, and to north-east Wales. However, we have to start somewhere. Investment in south-east Wales has spread along the M4 through Swansea. I cited the figures for business start-ups in Pembrokeshire, where there has been an extraordinary turnaround, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire (Mr. Ainger) will confirm. More than twelve years ago, when I first campaigned for him at elections, the heart had been ripped out of the Pembrokeshire economy. What is true of that area is true of north-west Wales, as I shall demonstrate later. Only last week, I was in Anglesey and Clwyd, West. [Interruption.] Indeed, when the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) was in Anglesey, he would have noticed that in Holyhead and throughout Anglesey there is a new buoyancy and business optimism, not just because there is a Labour MP but because the economy is much stronger.
Mr. Llwyd: The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that. In fact, Bangor university research has shown that Anglesey has huge hidden unemployment. On the doorstep, one hears that people cannot get jobs and that there are a large number of economically inactive people on Anglesey. Shortly after the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen), who is not in the Chamber, said that the police were performing well on Anglesey there were many murders on the island. The situation is out of control.
Mr. Hain: It is interesting to talk to business people in Anglesey, as I did on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning last week. They are not Labour party members, though they will probably support my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn, because they feel a greater buoyancy in the Anglesey economy and more business optimism. That is not to say that there are no problems remaining. Goodness me, after 18 years of Conservative decimation of the island's economy, it is not possible to turn everything round in eight years. That is why we need at least four more years to continue the job in Anglesey, with a Labour Member of Parliament to lead that renewal of the island.
The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy raised the issue of gross domestic product or gross value added. The figures show that there has been a 6 per cent. rise in Welsh GDP and Welsh GVA compared with 2002, the second fastest growth rate in the United Kingdom in 2003, a higher growth rate than England and Scotland, and GVA per capita in Wales has been increasing relative to the European average for the past three years. GVA per head in West Wales and the Valleys, including the hon. Gentleman's part of west Wales, has increased by 17 per cent. since we have been in power.
All those figures are provided by official statisticians and speak for themselves. I should have thought the hon. Gentleman would welcome them. We can argue
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about how best to support business creation, encourage more people to come off incapacity benefit and so on, but I do not accept his persistent whingeing about the state of Wales and his failure to recognise that Wales is now on the up and moving forward, and that it will continue to move forward as long as the policies that we introduced continue to be implemented.
Today I can announce, in that spirit, that Cardiff is to be the United Kingdom candidate for the headquarters of the European Union's global navigation satellite supervisory authority, the Galileo project. The potential to create such a prestigious project in Cardiff, with up to 30 high-quality jobs, in the year when we are celebrating 100 years of its city status and 50 years since it became our capital city, is immense. Positioning and related technologies are a vital component of the UK's knowledge economy and involve exactly the kind of jobs that we are trying to encourage in the new world-class Welsh economy.
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