Dreams of Independence Ignore the Harsh Reality of Economics; Yousay IN YOUR OPINION

Article excerpt

It was entirely predictable that with the Scottish proposal for a referendum on independence, letters would appear in your columns suggesting that Wales should follow a similar course.

And there, right on cue, popped up Coun Keith Parry with his suggestion for a Welsh republic.

Surely the first prerequisite for independence must be that any state should be economically viable.

Scotland may lay some tenuous claim to viability on account of its proximity to North Sea oil and gas (while it lasts), but the wealth provided by Wales' natural resources is long gone, never to return.

To put the economic state of Wales into its proper perspective one has to consider the following statistics. In simple round figures, the population of Wales is approximately three million. Of this number, about 750,000 are aged one to 25, either infants or in full-time education or job-seeking. They are producing no wealth.

Another 750,000 in the upper age group, say from age 60 to 85, are either retired or no longer able to work. They too are producing no wealth.

In theory, this should leave a central workforce of around 1.5 million with the potential to work, create wealth and pay taxes. But do they? Of the remainder, at least half are employed in the public sector.

No doubt in most cases they are fulfilling valuable roles but they are not creating wealth, in fact quite the reverse. …