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Mr. Öpik: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Hanson: Time is tight, so I am afraid that I shall have to carry on.

The good news is reflected in many Plaid Cymru Members' constituencies. For example, in the constituency of the right hon. Member for Caernarfon, unemployment has fallen by more than 400 and 800 people have started work under the new deal since the general election. In Ceredigion, unemployment has fallen and more than

5 Feb 2001 : Column 714

650 have started work under the new deal since the general election. In Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, unemployment has fallen by more than 500 since the general election. In Ynys Mon, unemployment has risen, but more than 1,000 people have benefited from the new deal since the general election.

As hon. Members have said, the resolution of such problems are not easy. The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire mentioned the legacy of 18 years of Conservative rule, but I noticed that the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) did not apologise for many of the problems that have led to social exclusion. My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South also made that point. The basic need of deprived communities in Wales and elsewhere is a strong and stable economy. The Government are not complacent about those communities. We are driving forward an active industrial policy, investing in skills, making the most of new technology and supporting industries for the future. We are supplying a platform of economic stability, by cutting public borrowing and ensuring low inflation.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South and other hon. Members have mentioned, we now have the lowest level of unemployment since the general election and for many years before. Some 1,000 new jobs are being created every month by the Government in Wales. Youth unemployment has fallen by 63 per cent and long-term unemployment has decreased by more than 12,000. On the basis of those sound economic policies, the Government, in partnership with the Assembly, can tackle social exclusion and begin to target special assistance on the communities that need it most.

The Government's generous settlement in the spending review--£8.5 billion in 2001, increasing to £10 billion in 2003-04--represents a real investment. The securing of objective 1 funding will bring wealth and prosperity to Wales and the country as a whole. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli has asked on numerous occasions how those resources and objective 1 funding would be secured and matched if Wales were independent. That question has not been answered tonight; nor has it been explained to the Welsh Grand Committee or at any Welsh Question Time. I look forward to hearing the explanation at the general election because, without the strength of the Government behind Wales, those resources would not be invested and we would not be tackling social exclusion.

The hon. Member for Ribble Valley said that we should do this and that, but if he were in government after the general election, he would cut public spending. The nationalists could not afford, and the Conservative party would cut, the increases in state pensions and child benefit, the free television licences, the new deal, the working families tax credit and many of the policies that my right hon. and hon. Friends know benefit their constituencies and tackle social exclusion. On the impact of British Government policy, let no one in Wales forget that the Conservative party would cut public expenditure and the nationalists would not have the resources in Wales to make the fundamental shift involved in using the resources of the United Kingdom to ensure that people in the poorest communities in Wales secure a better deal.

The hon. Member for Ceredigion said in both the Welsh Grand Committee and in this debate that we have accomplished no real achievements in Wales. However,

5 Feb 2001 : Column 715

as my hon. Friends have pointed out, we have created 40,000 new jobs since the general election. In addition, the number of jobs in Wales has increased by more than 29,000 in the past two years; 67,000 families benefit from the working families tax credit; 27,000 people are going through the new deal scheme; 100,000 workers benefit from the minimum wage; 100,000 pensioner income households benefit from the minimum income guarantee; and 500,000 pensioners benefit from increased winter fuel allowances. Those are the Government's real and genuine achievements in Wales.

The rural economy has also been mentioned, and all the measures that I have described benefit it as well. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's summit on 30 March last year meant that an extra £15 million of agriculture expenditure was made available for less-favoured areas in Wales; £2.2 million was provided for the dairy sector; £2.5 million for the beef sector; and £6 million for the sheep sector. They are important measures that impact on rural and urban areas.

The agenda on social exclusion has become clear from the debate and it is clear that there are issues that the Government need to deal with further. There are measures that we can and will take in our second term to increase inclusion in our society. However, if we follow the Conservative way, we shall have further cuts in public spending and, if we have an independent Wales, the country will not be able to afford the benefits that a Labour Government bring to Wales. I commend our amendment to the House.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 37, Noes 271.

Division No. 103
[6.59 pm


Allan, Richard
Ballard, Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cotter, Brian
Fearn, Ronnie
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gorrie, Donald
Hancock, Mike
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Webb, Steve
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd and
Mr. Simon Thomas.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blair, Rt Hon Tony
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Browne, Desmond
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Jean
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Leslie, Christopher
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Mike Hall and
Mr. Tony McNulty.

Question accordingly negatived.

5 Feb 2001 : Column 718

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


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