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Thanks to the success of the Government's New Deal programme, long-term unemployment in Wales now stands at 11,300 and youth unemployment in Wales now stands at 15,900, their lowest figures since 1986.
Since the New Deal was launched throughout Wales, there has been a 39 per cent. fall in the number of people aged 25 and over who have been unemployed and claiming the Job Seeker's Allowance for two years or more.
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The latest seasonally adjusted claimant count unemployment rate in Wales was 4.4 per cent. of workforce for January 2001, its lowest level since August 1975, and long-term unemployment and youth unemployment are at their lowest levels in Wales since 1986 at 11,300 and 15,900 respectively.
Mr. Paul Murphy: I established the Welsh sub-group of the Coal Health Claims Monitoring Group specifically to address coal health issues in Wales and to report back to the GB-wide group. The Group had its second meeting on 12 February, attended by my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe, and again proved extremely constructive. I am convinced that the measures we have discussed, and the actions we have agreed, will further speed up the processing of coal health claims.
The Government launched their White Paper on Enterprise, Skills and Innovation on 13 February 2001 setting out the next steps for Government in helping individuals, communities and businesses to prosper. The Assembly were fully consulted during production of the White Paper.
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Mr. Paul Murphy: While I do not retain any executive functions which would allow me to make direct proposals in respect of investment or employment matters, I am in regular contact with Cabinet colleagues and with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss how best to shape and take forward initiatives.
I am, however, responsible for securing the Welsh block for the Assembly. This Government secured Objective 1 status and funding for Wales, and provided funding over and above the Barnett allocation as part of the comprehensive spending review. This is further evidence of this Government's commitment to regenerate some of the most deprived areas of Wales.
19. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will meet the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss the impact of steel closures at Llanwern and Ebbw Vale on Monmouthshire. 
The Government and the Assembly are looking to provide help to the individuals affected and the communities in which they live. This will include new job opportunities, retraining, and economic regeneration.
Tuition fees and student support policy for higher education is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment for both England and Wales. I understand, however, that the Assembly is concerned about student hardship, including the impact of tuition fees on the financial position of students. The Assembly announced on 5 December that they have commissioned an independent investigation into the issue of student hardship and funding, dealing with those issues covered in the Scottish 'Cubie Report' which fall within the Assembly's remit.
The Assembly Health and Social Services Secretary launched the Welsh strategy "Tackling Substance Misuse in Wales: A Partnership Approach" in May 2000 in the light of the UK anti-drugs strategy. This embraces the
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four key aims of the UK anti-drugs strategy within the Welsh strategic framework and covers the full range of substances that are misused in Wales, including illegal drugs and alcohol.
The Assembly is committed to producing an annual report monitoring progress against key indicators of social exclusion. Information on household incomes by local authority area is given in the National Assembly's report entitled "Mapping Social Exclusion in Wales". A copy of this report is in the Library of the House.
Mr. Paul Murphy: The Government recognise that there have been major job losses but the latest available figures show that between autumn 1999 and autumn 2000 there were 14,500 new manufacturing jobs in Wales, 4,000 as a result of new openings and 10,500 through expansions at existing plants.
30. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on recent discussions he has had with the Treasury on resources for areas of Wales which have lost jobs in the manufacturing sector. 
Despite recent job losses in some sectors of manufacturing in Wales, the announcement of further investment by Ford at Bridgend, together with recent positive decisions on production in the UK by Toyota and Nissan, demonstrates confidence in the economic stability and favourable business environment this Government have established.
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