HC Deb 13 February 1962 vol 653 cc1095-6
3. Mr. Prentice

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes he proposes to make in the Government's economic policies, in view of the rise in unemployment recently.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

None, Sir. The Government are taking active measures to assist industry to move to areas of high unemployment and will continue to do so.

Mr. Prentice

Will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman at least acknowledge that an increase of over 71,000 in the number of registered unemployed in a month is a rather alarming figure? Will he also acknowlelge that this is due in the main to the policy that he himself has been following since last July?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that it is also necessary to remember that on the last date for which the figures are available 154,000 more people were in employ ment than in the corresponding period last year. As regards trying to take industry to places where there are high levels of unemployment, we are spending in the current financial year about £34 million on that, and I shall be surprised if the bill next year is any less.

Sir P. Agnew

Does my right hon. and learned Friend recollect that almost fifteen years ago, when the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was a Minister, there were million unemployed?

Mr. Lloyd

That is true, but I think that that was during a slightly abnormal period.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of that statement, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman make inquiries to ascertain the truth of it and deny the contention if the Government documents in his possession indicate that there is no truth whatever in the statement?

Mr. Lloyd

I did my best to help the right hon. Gentleman by saying that the period to which I thought my hon. Friend was referring was a rather abnormal one.