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Cairns: Welsh manufacturing crumbling under Labour

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I almost feel sorry for the Minister in that the Government has proposed a debate on the manufacturing sector when, quite obviously, it is experiencing an extremely difficult time.

As has already been highlighted, several thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost just in recent weeks, and the trend is continuing. The First Minister and the Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks have often criticised me for highlighting maybe one quarter or one month.

However, it is obvious to anyone observing or watching the news that this has become a continuing trend, so much so that unemployment in the UK is at its highest for four years, and 25 per cent of the manufacturing jobs in Wales have been lost since 1999.

Several facts have been highlighted, but when we consider the loss of 65,000 manufacturing jobs, according to my data, or 70,000 jobs, according to Alun Ffred Jones, that is very worrying. I appreciate that the Minister has put the best spin on the manufacturing base, but without being derogatory in any fashion to those who have just lost their jobs, the usual company that is wheeled out is Airbus UK, and rightly so—it is an extremely successful company.

However, if the Minister is prepared to take the credit for some of the expansions and developments at Airbus, I hope that he is prepared to take some of the responsibility and blame for those companies that are leaving Wales. He talks about market forces, but Airbus itself is a creation of market forces, and he needs to accept responsibility for many of the jobs that have been lost.

The Minister highlighted that £55 million was spent in regional selective assistance last year, but only £20 million of that went on supporting indigenous Welsh companies. He highlighted the fact that China, eastern Europe and the global environment are placing great pressure on Welsh manufacturers.

That is right, and it is a challenge that we need to address, but the same could be said about the rest of the United Kingdom. Mike German rightly highlighted that while manufacturing output for the last four quarters fell by 6.6 per cent in Wales, according to the manufacturing index, it fell by 1.1 per cent in the rest of the UK.

Jobs in manufacturing for the last four quarters fell by 3.9 per cent in Wales, but by only 3.3 per cent in the UK as a whole. If we look at the index of production, and use 2002 as the baseline for the Office of National Statistics figures, by 2005 Wales has 93 points for production industries and 92.2 for manufacturing industries.

For the rest of the United Kingdom, the rate is 98.2; in other words, there is a minor drop from the baseline across the rest of the United Kingdom. In the manufacturing industries, it is 100.7. Since 2002, the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of the manufacturing index has improved slightly, but in Wales we have dropped by almost eight points from that base.

Statistics can prove anything, and the Minister has sought as his salvation to highlight the Confederation of British Industry trends survey for one month—the very criticism that he has made of me.

To paraphrase him, the Minister said that if you look at the figures for February, there were green shoots of recovery in the manufacturing sector. This is at a time when Wales has had the benefit of structural funding when the rest of the United Kingdom in general has not.

Some areas in the rest of the UK have had the opportunity of structural funds, but not in the same proportion or on a comparative scale. Therefore, it is interesting to look at the statistics and data that the website of the Welsh European Funding Office highlights.

It states that there was a target for 3,000 new jobs to be created in the high-technology sector, and only 723 jobs are in place at the moment. I know that we are not yet at the end of the structural funds period, but is a tall order to achieve the target between now and the end of the period given that we have only achieved 723 out of a target of 3,000.

Most worryingly, only 175 new firms have been created within the high-tech sector, although the target was to create 2,000 firms. Minister, these are not our targets—they are yours. The global environment and pressures affect everyone in the United Kingdom, so why is it that England is doing better than Wales?

To close, I am delighted that the Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills is in the Chamber, because she must accept much of the responsibility.

Many of these companies are looking to the future, but with a widening gap of GCSE qualifications between England and Wales, there is no wonder at the situation because, when they are looking for an improved skills base, those are the facts with which they have to contend."

"Teimlaf drueni bron dros y Gweinidog am fod y Llywodraeth wedi cynnig dadl ar y sector gweithgynhyrchu pan fo'n cael amser anodd iawn, a hynny'n gwbl amlwg. Fel yr amlygwyd eisoes, collwyd sawl mil o swyddi gweithgynhyrchu yn ystod yr wythnosau diwethaf, ac mae'r duedd yn parhau.

Mae'r Prif Weinidog a'r Gweinidog dros Fenter, Arloesi a Rhwydweithiau wedi fy meirniadu'n aml am amlygu efallai un chwarter neu un fis. Fodd bynnag, mae'n amlwg i unrhyw un sy'n gwylio'r newyddion i hyn ddod yn duedd barhaus, i'r graddau fel y mae diweithdra yn y DU ar y lefel uchaf ers pedair blynedd, a chollwyd 25 y cant o'r swyddi gweithgynhyrchu yng Nghymru ers 1999.

Amlygwyd nifer o ffeithiau, ond pan ystyriwn fod 65,000 o swyddi gweithgynhyrchu wedi'u colli, yn ôl fy nata i, neu 70,000 o swyddi, yn ôl Alun Ffred Jones, mae hynny o bryder mawr.

Gwerthfawrogaf fod y Gweinidog wedi ceisio rhoi'r darlun mwyaf cadarnhaol o'r sylfaen weithgynhyrchu, ond heb fod yn ddifrïol mewn unrhyw fodd i'r rhai sydd newydd golli eu swyddi, y cwmni a ddefnyddir fel enghraifft fel arfer yw Airbus UK, a hynny'n gwbl gywir—mae'n gwmni llwyddiannus iawn.

Fodd bynnag, os yw'r Gweinidog yn barod i dderbyn y clod am rai o'r achosion o ehangu a datblygu yn Airbus, gobeithiaf ei fod yn barod i dderbyn rhywfaint o'r cyfrifoldeb a'r bai am y cwmnïau hynny sy'n gadael Cymru. Mae'n siarad am rymoedd y farchnad, ond mae Airbus ei hun wedi'i greu gan rymoedd y farchnad, ac mae angen iddo dderbyn cyfrifoldeb am lawer o'r swyddi a gollwyd.

Amlygodd y Gweinidog i £55 miliwn gael ei wario ar gymorth rhanbarthol dewisol y llynedd, ond dim ond £20 miliwn ohono a wariwyd i gynorthwyo cwmnïau cynhenid yng Nghymru. Amlygodd fod Tsieina, dwyrain Ewrop a'r amgylchedd byd-eang yn rhoi pwysau mawr ar weithgynhyrchwyr Cymru.

Mae hynny'n wir, ac mae'n her y mae angen inni fynd i'r afael â hi, ond gellid dweud yr un peth am weddill y Deyrnas Unedig. Amlygodd Mike German yn gywir ddigon, er i gynnyrch gweithgynhyrchu ar gyfer y pedwar chwarter diwethaf ostwng 6.6 y cant yng Nghymru, yn ôl y mynegai gweithgynhyrchu, iddo ostwng 1.1 y cant yng ngweddill y DU.

Gostyngodd nifer y swyddi gweithgynhyrchu ar gyfer y pedwar chwarter diwethaf 3.9 y cant yng Nghymru, ond dim ond 3.3 y cant yn y DU gyfan. Os edrychwn ar y mynegai cynhyrchu ac yn defnyddio 2002 fel sylfaen ar gyfer ffigurau'r Swyddfa Ystadegau Gwladol, erbyn 2005 mae gan Gymru 93 o bwyntiau ar gyfer diwydiannau cynhyrchu a 92.2 ar gyfer diwydiannau gweithgynhyrchu.

Am weddill y Deyrnas Unedig, 98.2 yw'r gyfradd, mewn geiriau eraill, mae gostyngiad bach o'r sylfaen ledled gweddill y Deyrnas Unedig. Yn y diwydiannau gweithgynhyrchu, 100.7 ydyw. Ers 2002, o ran y mynegai gweithgynhyrchu, mae gweddill y Deyrnas Unedig wedi gwella ychydig, ond yng Nghymru yr ydym wedi gostwng bron wyth pwynt o'r sylfaen honno.

Gall ystadegau brofi unrhyw beth, a cheisiodd y Gweinidog achub ei hun drwy amlygu arolwg o dueddiadau Cydffederasiwn Diwydiant Prydain ar gyfer mis—yr union feirniadaeth a wnaeth ohonof fi. I'w aralleirio, dywedodd y Gweinidog os edrychwch ar y ffigurau ar gyfer mis

Chwefror, fod arwyddion bod y sector gweithgynhyrchu yn adfer. Mae hyn ar adeg pan gafodd Cymru fudd cronfeydd strwythurol pan na chafodd gweddill y Deyrnas Unedig hynny yn gyffredinol. Mae rhai ardaloedd yng ngweddill y DU wedi cael y cyfle i fanteisio ar gronfeydd strwythurol, ond nid ar yr un raddfa na graddfa debyg. Felly, mae'n ddiddorol edrych ar yr ystadegau a'r data ar wefan uchafbwyntiau Swyddfa Cyllid Ewropeaidd Cymru.

Noda fod targed i greu 3,000 o swyddi newydd yn y sector uwch-dechnoleg, a dim ond 723 o swyddi a grëwyd hyd yn hyn. Gwn nad ydym wedi cyrraedd diwedd cyfnod y cronfeydd strwythurol eto, ond mae'n gofyn tipyn i gyrraedd y targed rhwng yn awr a diwedd y cyfnod o gymryd mai dim ond 723 a grëwyd o darged o 3,000. Y peth mwyaf pryderus yw mai dim ond 175 o gwmnïau newydd a grëwyd o fewn y sector uwch-dechnoleg, er mai'r targed oedd creu 2,000 o gwmnïau. Weinidog, nid ein targedau ni yw'r rhain—eich rhai chi ydynt. Mae'r amgylchedd byd-eang a'r pwysau yn effeithio ar bawb yn y Deyrnas Unedig, felly pam mae Lloegr yn gwneud yn well na Chymru?

I gloi, yr wyf wrth fy modd bod y Gweinidog dros Addysg, Dysgu Gydol Oes a Sgiliau yn y Siambr, gan fod yn rhaid iddi dderbyn llawer o'r cyfrifoldeb.

Mae llawer o'r cwmnïau hyn yn edrych i'r dyfodol, ond gyda bwlch sy'n ehangu o ran cymwysterau TGAU rhwng Cymru a Lloegr, nid yw'r sefyllfa yn peri syndod, oherwydd pan fyddant yn edrych am sylfaen sgiliau well, dyna'r ffeithiau y mae'n rhaid iddynt ymgodymu â hwy."

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