§ 19. Mrs. Castle
asked the President of the Board of Trade why Blackburn has been excluded from the list of areas benefiting under the Local Employment Bill.
§ Mr. J. Rodgers
Blackburn is not on the list of development districts because it is not, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, a place in which a persistently high rate of unemployment exists or is expected; and this is the requirement by which the Board of Trade will be bound under the terms of the Local Employment Bill.
§ Mrs. Castle
Is the hon. Member aware that our present unemployment is above the national average and that it is expected to increase as a result of the final closing of mills at the end of this month under the cotton reorganisation scheme? On 11th January there were already 800 women signing on at the employment exchange, but that does not give the true figure because many married women do not register as unemployed. It is estimated that some 2,000 middle-aged women with family responsibilities, who cannot do any shift work in the reorganised mills, are liable to be left without employment unless there is an increase of new light industry.
§ Mr. Rodgers
I am informed that the local rate of unemployment has fallen from 4.9 to 2.5 per cent. At present, 1,376 people are out of work, but 1,200 new jobs are expected to arise from projects in prospect.