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Monday, 21 August, 2000, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Economy 'reaping devolution benefits'

Manufacturing has been hit, but Wales holds its own
Economic growth in Wales is set to "leave behind" areas of England and Scotland, a survey has shown.

The Welsh economy is expected to grow by 3.2% next year, according to Oxford Economic Forecasting.

The projected figure would beat Scotland, the North of England and the West Midlands, but would fall behind London and the South East of England.

The National Assembly for Wales gave a cautious welcome to the findings.

Regional economic growth
3.7% - South East England
3.6% - Eastern England and Greater London
3.2% - Wales
2.9% - Scotland
2.7% - North East England
A spokesperson said: "There is still a substantial imbalance within the UK and these forecasts appear to show it is getting worse.

"The main reason for the difference between the North and the South is the continuing problem of the manufacturing industry and the weakness of the euro, on which First Secretary Rhodri Morgan has voiced his concern on many occasions.

"Nevertheless, against this background, it is encouraging to note that Wales still continues to do reasonably well."

The growth in the Welsh economy was because Wales was reaping the benefits of devolution, according to a group of North of England Labour MPs.

'Leaving the rest behind'

The chair of the group, Ronnie Campbell MP, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Scotland is marching ahead because of their own Parliament, and so is Wales; they have the ear of everybody in the Cabinet.

"Scotland has a Cabinet minister, so has Wales.

"They have also got the Barnett formula that gives them at least a billion pounds more to spend on public enterprises than we have."

euro coin
Manufacturing is still hampererd by a weak euro
Mr. Campbell called on the Prime Minister to follow suit by establishing assemblies in the English regions including Cornwall and the North East.

"I want a regional assembly, because I think we are only going to be left behind further," he added.

"There are regions of this country that are just being ignored."

The slower growth of the North of England and West Midlands regions was down to the high concentration of manufacturing industry, the report said.

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See also:

21 Aug 00 | Business
North-south divide 'getting bigger'
03 Apr 00 | Wales
Welsh businesses need support
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