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6.18 pm

Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly): It is sometimes difficult to chart the progress of this Labour Government simply by speaking in vague generalities. So, in the short time available to me, I shall give some specific examples of how Labour is benefiting some of the poorest communities in Wales. I shall begin with the Aber valley, a small valley just north-west of Caerphilly. It contains two small communities: Abertridwr and Senghenydd, the village where the largest mining disaster of the last century occurred. This community has some of the most acute poverty, the poorest health and the lowest incomes anywhere in Wales.

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It is significant, however, that today the community is coming together behind the National Assembly's Valleys First initiative. Resources are also coming into one of the great community institutions of Abertridwr, the YMCA. The YMCA has been massively expanded with a grant of £650,000, providing real opportunities for the community as a whole and for disadvantaged young people. The question is, where is that money coming from? Two thirds of it is from objective 1 funding. Objective 1 money is coming into south Wales and west Wales because of a deal that was struck by a Labour Government.

Only a few months ago, we heard a great deal about the lack of match funding and long delays. The reality is that we have match funding: a formula is in place that goes beyond Barnett to ensure additionality. Projects across west Wales and the valleys are materialising before our very eyes.

I mentioned the YMCA in Abertridwr, but if we extend our horizons slightly to the Caerphilly borough as a whole, we see resources going to Ystrad Mynach college to provide lifelong learning initiatives, a former colliery site in Penallta where Groundwork is taking a lead, a youth café in Bargoed with two youth workers and internet facilities, and a new business and technology centre in Tredomen where £160,000 has been provided. All those resources are meaningful and worth while.

In just one year, Caerphilly borough as a whole has received £7,485,381. That has come about not because of Plaid Cymru or the Conservatives, who argued for many years that it was not possible to get objective 1 funding. It came about because of the determination and advocacy of a Labour Government. Those practical results on the ground have come about because of Labour, and let us not forget that.

6.21 pm

Mr. Dai Havard (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney): First, I should like to welcome my colleague and comrade, my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca- Davies). I, too, was in the rain, which is where my flu comes from, so I hope hon. Members will excuse me.

I want to talk about crime and disorder. Yesterday, I tried to raise the issue of antisocial behaviour orders, and the Tories tried to shout me down. I wanted to talk about the speed and frequency of their use from experience in my constituency. The Minister for Police, Courts and Drugs visited my constituency recently to meet people in the community who are trying to deal with these issues. He saw the community police officers Kyle Manns and Cath Parker, who told him that they needed the tools to do the job, including help to speed up that process. That is why I want to raise this issue.

We have a strong local partnership to deal with these problems. We bring all the agencies together—the local authority, the youth justice team and the health boards—so we are able to examine the issues across the piece. One of the organisations involved is Safer Merthyr Tydfil, and we have an experience to relate from which others may learn. It helped to establish community warden schemes, and people have since moved from those agencies to Government Departments, from which has come the experience of the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, which is replicating those schemes in England.

In my constituency, this activity is carried out by the voluntary sector. I want to make a plea. The involvement of the voluntary sector is a good thing—it is not a local

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authority scheme—but to maintain its involvement, it needs sustained funding, and I would like that matter looked into.

The police community takes most of the action against crime and disorder, and we are experiencing the benefits of intelligence-led policing. Others across the United Kingdom should consider that approach, because it is bringing benefits. We are working in partnerships, so I do not recognise the description that was given earlier—of my community fighting itself. The trend in the United Kingdom as a whole has been for the sickness rate of police officers to go up—it is about 12 days a year—whereas in Merthyr it is coming down, to 6 or 7 days a year.

The extra resources are being used for intelligence-led policing initiatives and good management processes, and they are bearing fruit and bringing benefits. In five years, domestic burglaries in my community have been reduced by 60 per cent. There are initiatives on violent crime which we need, as we know that we have a problem, but there is a 90 per cent. detection rate in Merthyr, and that is the highest in the force. At Christmas, we ran a special scheme called "crystal clear" which reduced by 28 per cent. the amount of facial and other injuries from bottles and glasses in pubs and clubs, which all hon. Members will know about.

We are learning from our own experience and I think we have something to offer others, but we need extra help. Although so many good things are happening we still have massive problems, not least the problem of drugs. I am glad that one of my hon. Friends mentioned that earlier. We need not just enforcement and reduction measures, but better treatment facilities.

Although we require the co-operation of all Government agencies if we are to provide help, we realise that we are making the improvements we are making only because of sustained investment by the United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer. Redistribution is taking place. That is something the Tories would never do, something the Liberals cannot do, and something that narrow nationalism would destroy.

6.25 pm

Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak, and I too praise my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) for an excellent maiden speech.

As many Members will know, in the early 1980s Deeside experienced the greatest number of redundancies ever experienced in one day. Ten thousand people lost their jobs at Shotton steelworks, and many thousands of job losses followed as a knock-on effect. The community spirit went into free fall, crime rocketed, and the hopes of youngsters were shattered. Those events became a lasting testament to the Tory Government's industrial policy—and now the Tories have the nerve to talk of being the friends of the steel industry and its work force.

Since 1980 the community and policy-makers of north-east Wales have been striving for a strong and stable economy, looking to the future rather than the past. Massive strides in industrial development and expansion have been made since the steel closures. A major component in the reconstruction has been the creation of the Deeside industrial park, in which my predecessor Lord Jones played a vital role.

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Deeside lies on the English border, and acts as a motor for the entire economy of north Wales, Cheshire, the Wirral and Merseyside. Without the industrial park, the biggest of its kind in Europe, that would not be possible. Because we have focused on building for the future, tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs have been created in north Wales and the north-west of England. No barriers exist between the two regions, which rely on each other for growth and strength.

Yesterday's announcement by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions of improvements in the north Wales link to the north-west and the M56 is excellent news, both for Alyn and Deeside and for north-east Wales in general. The route constitutes an important link in the economic bond between the north-west and north Wales, and the improvements are crucial to economic growth in the region. The National Assembly for Wales has welcomed the plans, considering them vital to economic expansion.

Last Friday, however, a panel of Assembly Members decided to rule out the expansion of the Deeside industrial park. In my view, the reason given for refusing planning permission to double the size of the park was not justifiable. The Assembly's inspector claimed that the land on which the park would be expanded was of high quality, and that the area's farming industry would therefore be compromised. While I fully support our farmers in Wales, we should remember that the original park was built on that land. If such a decision had been made in the 1980s, we would not have the jobs that we have today.

I wanted to speak for longer, but I know others want to contribute.

6.28 pm

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West): In the three minutes available to me, I will say something about some of the problems experienced by Cardiff, as Wales's capital. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas) has an important three-minute constitutional speech to make.

The press, early-day motions and speeches in the House often criticise Cardiff as a capital. It is frequently alleged that it sucks in resources—possibly because people in Cardiff did not vote for devolution, although the swing in the 1999 referendum was one of the largest in Wales. Cardiff, however, makes an important contribution to the economy. Members may not realise that, in 2000, 70,600 people came into Cardiff from the surrounding communities to work each day. The fact that those people went home and spent money in their communities represents a vital contribution to the south Wales economy. It is impossible to separate Cardiff's economy from that of the rest of south Wales; south Wales would be a much poorer place without that vibrant economy.

Cardiff still has problems, however. Levels of unemployment in my constituency are frequently among the highest in Wales. Month after month, communities such as Ely in my constituency are in the top four when it comes to deprivation—although I see that the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) finds that amusing.

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There are real housing problems in my area. Many newspaper column inches are devoted to the problems of rural housing in Wales, but those problems pale into insignificance when compared with the housing problems in Cardiff. House prices in my constituency are very high. Ironically, many of the most expensive houses are owned by people who have come to live in Cardiff from some of the communities mentioned by Opposition Members.

That is not a bad thing: it is good, as we in Cardiff encourage diversity of language, culture, and race. However, I shall give the House a few figures relating to housing in my constituency. For example, the average price for a terraced house in Cardiff is £83,000. In the Canton area of my constituency, the average price is £102,000.

Over the past 20 years, the local council has sold 9,000 properties under the right-to-buy legislation. Of those, only 900 were flats. At the current rate, the number of council properties remaining in Cardiff will fall in a couple of years to 13,600.

I shall have to skip many of the figures that I have prepared, but there is one statistic that I must share with the House. In Canton, there were 1,119 applicants last year for three-bedroom council housing. Three properties became available in that period.

I could say much more on the subject, but I shall do so on another occasion.

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