HC Deb 12 December 1962 vol 669 cc398-400
23. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that unemployment in Jarrow and Hebburn is three times higher than the national average; and what are the employment prospects of the people concerned.

Mr. Whitelaw

Yes, Sir. Though there are few notified vacancies at present, there are a number of jobs in prospect in the area.

Mr. Fernyhough

Can the Parliamentary Secretary please change the record? Does not he realise that this is the kind of Answer I have been getting for 10 years? There are always jobs in prospect, there are always jobs in the pipeline, but these jobs never materialise. Does he not appreciate that what the people of Jarrow are experiencing now is what they went through in the inter-war years. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] For the unemployed it is. Their prospects under the present Government seem little better than they did under the Administration which really murdered the town. Would not be better if the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend admitted that they have not a clue, that they do not know how to solve the problem, and gave way to people who would make some serious attempt to do so?

Mr. Whitelaw

I can only assume that the reason why the hon. Member is getting the same answer is that he has been asking the same question. [Interruption.] Having said that, I do not think that he would really suggest that it is right to compare the position today with that of the 1930s, as he has been doing. This does not render any service to those in the areas concerned, or to anyone else. He also knows that quite a few jobs have been produced. He underrates what has been done. I can only say that by general measures taken by my right hon. Friend to reflate the economy, by measures to increase expenditure in the North-East, and by the facilities provided by the Local Employment Act, considerable efforts have been made to improve the position.

Mr. Prentice

The Parliamentary Secretary must not be flippant in his replies to these Questions. Is he aware that in the replies given to this Question and the preceding ones he and his right hon. Friend have put forward no new ideas, and have offered no prospect of new policies in respect of this matter? Does he realise that last night, in a speech in London, the Leader of the House said that the Government intended to speed up the process of bringing industries to these areas? If that is so, should not he and his right hon. Friend have been able to give us some details today? Or was the Leader of the House—like so many other Cabinet Ministers—raising hopes that will not be fulfilled under this Government?

Mr. Whitelaw

If anything that I have said could be construed as flippant I apologise. It was not my desire and I had no intention of being flippant. I naturally regard the position as serious, as everyone does. I do not think that it would be for me to add anything to what the Leader of the House has said. Naturally, he speaks with great authority.

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