HC Deb 06 December 1962 vol 668 cc1494-5
Q2. Mr. Prentice

asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a special committee of Ministers to deal with the problem of rising unemployment.

The Prime Minister

This matter always requires regular and frequent consultation between the Ministers concerned. The arrangements which are in force naturally provide for this.

Mr. Prentice

Will the Prime Minister comment on the reports in yesterday's newspapers that the Cabinet has now decided that no special extra measures are needed to deal with the current level of unemployment? Does not he think that this is a terribly complacent view of the present unemployment figures which are the highest for 22 years? How high have they to go before the right hon. Gentleman does anything?

The Prime Minister

I do not know about reports of Cabinet discussions. I have not read the one to which the hon. Gentleman refers. A very large number of measures have been taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and they are continually under review. Also, considerable changes in regard to what one might call the re-expansion of the economy have taken place in the past few months.

Mr. Gaitskell

In that case, may we expect a further statement from the Government before Christmas in order to do something to alleviate the very considerable anxiety existing in all quarters of the House and the country on this matter?

The Prime Minister

As I understand the position, we are hoping, both of us, to arrange for a debate on, I think, the 17th of this month. That would seem to be a more suitable moment for a discussion of this matter than by question and answer.

Mr. R. W. Elliott

Will my right hon. Friend agree that a solution to unemployment in such areas as the north-east of England depends on investment? Is he aware that the recent announcement on public investment in that area was very well received, and that any further announcement of public investment would also be very well received? Is he aware that there has been in that area a great deal of private investment in recent years and that much Male is hoped for? Is he aware that constant suggestions about "two nations" and the gloom engendered by such phrases as "twilight areas" do not encourage investment?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I feel that this matter has to be dealt with, as I said the other day, from various aspects—the general state of the economy and particular privileges for particular areas. I agree that in the realm of both private and public investment we must seek a solution.