26 April 2002 Written

Prospects for Manufacturing Jobs

Alison Halford:

Will the Minster make a statement about the long-term prospects for manufacturing jobs in Wales? (WAQ17139)

The Minister for Economic Development (Andrew Davies):

Manufacturing is an important sector in Wales and the Assembly Government believes that it has a bright future provided firms innovate and move up the value chain. The Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Development Agency have a number of programs to encourage firms in this way, for example, the Accelerate Wales programme.

The Assembly Government is also supporting the Welsh centre of manufacturing excellence. The competition for this is shortly to be completed. The successful organisation or consortium will form part of an integrated support system to modernise manufacturing and increase the take-up of leading edge technology and techniques by small and medium-sized enterprises throughout Wales. In addition to this, 20 departments in higher education institutions across Wales were accredited with CETIC (centre of excellence in technology and industrial collaboration) status last year, and are now helping companies gain access to extensive expertise in a wide range of high-tech fields, to develop new and existing products.

The Welsh Development Agency also has a number of programmes in place to help manufacturing industry, such as Source Wales, which is regarded as one of the best services of its kind in the world.

With support from these initiatives, among others, I am confident the long-term prospects for manufacturing are good and that it will continue to play a vital role in the Welsh economy.

Gender Pay Gap in North-east Wales

Alison Halford:

What action is the Minister taking to reduce the widening gender pay gap in north-east Wales? (WAQ17140)

Andrew Davies:

The Welsh Assembly Government launched the equal pay campaign on 7 March 2002 at three separate venues: Cardiff bay, Llandudno and Swansea. A continuing ‘Close the Pay Gap Campaign’ is being rolled out in partnership with the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Wales Trades Union Congress over the next year.

The Assembly Government is also funding Chwarae Teg, to support its role in promoting women’s participation in the labour market in Wales. Chwarae Teg, which has an office in north-east Wales, was funded in 2001-02 for a project to undertake some in-depth research on the position of women in the Welsh economy.

The Assembly itself also implemented the equal pay strategies within its last pay agreement, to ensure that women who choose to have a family are not financially penalised for taking time off work to raise that family.

Commercially Confidential Information

Alison Halford:

How many documents/pieces of information has the Economic Development Department determined are ‘commercially confidential’ since January 2000? (WAQ17141)

Andrew Davies:

The information would be available only at a disproportionate cost. For instance on regional selective assistance, SMART, SPUR and regional innovation grant schemes since January 2000, the Economic Development Department has issued 774 offer letters regarded as commercially confidential. Depending on its complexity, each case might be supported by over 30 similarly confidential documents on file. An accurate assessment of the volume of commercially confidential material could only be determined by reviewing each of these and other files.

Disposal of Fridges

Alison Halford:

What action has the Minister taken to enable Welsh businesses to both cope and seize the opportunities that are arising out of new regulations that prevent the disposal of fridges without steps being taken to prevent the escape of chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons from fridge insulation foam during disposal? (WAQ17143)

Andrew Davies:

The Welsh Assembly Government has provided regional selective assistance to a company that is constructing a facility with CFC recovery equipment. Also, the Assembly’s recent amendment to the waste management licensing regulations will provide further opportunities for companies in Wales to offer services for the recovery of refrigeration equipment using mobile plant.

In addition, the WDA’s environmental team, WalesTrade International, and the environmental goods and services programme, jointly funded by the WDA and Pathway to Prosperity, have been working with Welsh companies to seize opportunities arising from environmental legislation, including that related to the disposal of refrigeration equipment.

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