§ 22. Mr. Swingler
asked the Minister of Labour the latest figure of unemployment in Newcastle-under-Lyme; what proportion of the working population this represents; how this compares with the national average; how many are disabled persons; and if he will draw the attention of all Departments to these figures so that they may be taken into account in the consideration of public schemes.
§ Mr. Wood
I apologise, Mr. Speaker, for the length of my reply.
On 17th November, 1958, 1,211 people were registered as unemployed in Newcastle-under-Lyme, representing 4.6 per cent. of the insured employees. National figures are not yet available for comparison, but on 13th October the percentage rate in Newcastle-under-Lyme was 4.6 compared with a national average of 2.3. Included in the figure for 17th November, were 197 registered disabled persons suitable for employment under normal conditions and 35 severely disabled persons unlikely to obtain employment except under sheltered conditions. Nearly a third of those unemployed in Newcastle-under-Lyme were temporarily stopped on the day of the count.
The town is within daily travelling distance of the City of Stoke-on-Trent and the proportion of wholly unemployed people in the wider area was the same as the corresponding national average. I would not be justified in suggesting to my right hon. Friends that priority should be given public schemes in the area at the expense of other areas with a more serious unemployment problem.
§ Mr. Swingler
Whilst thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for that lengthy reply, may I ask whether he recognises, therefore, that since the last General Election unemployment in Newcastle-under-Lyme has continuously increased and has now reached a very serious figure? In the interest of those who are placed in enforced idleness there, will the hon. Gentleman draw this matter to the attention of his right hon. Friends, to whom I have continuously suggested a variety of schemes? These schemes range from a reduction of the tax on pottery to building necessary roads and an increased number of schools, to prevent the situation from becoming still worse.