HC Deb 01 July 1963 vol 680 cc20-1
32. Mr. P. Browne

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the unemployment figure, expressed as a percentage of the insured population, for the Bideford and Torrington Employment Exchange area at the last count; and if he will give the figure for the same month in 1962.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)

4 per cent. and 2.2 per cent., respectively.

Mr. Browne

May I first of all say how pleased I am to see my right hon. Friend back with us after his illness and express the hope that he will soon be fully recovered and get rid of his stick?

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware of the great help that we have had from the manager and staff of the local employment exchange, in particular when the shipyard in my constituency closed down suddenly in March? However, will he not agree that these are shocking figures, and will he consult his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to see what steps can be taken to alleviate the situation, bearing in mind that there is a considerable hidden figure of unemployment in the district and the fact that at the time the shipyard closed down quite a lot of men left the district?

Mr. Hare

May I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks in the first part of his supplementary question?

In answer to the last part, as he knows, Bideford has now been listed as a development district. I think he is also aware that the President of the Board of Trade is willing to consider helping any firm which can get the yard going again on a satisfactory commercial basis. I hope that it will be possible for this to be done.

Mr. Lipton

As the right hon. Gentleman appears to know what the insured population is in this particular employment exchange area, may I ask him why he always refuses to let London Members of Parliament know the insured populations in the area of employment exchanges in London?

Mr. Hare

I think that is an irrelevant supplementary question. I have given the insured population of the Bideford and Torrington Employment Exchange area.

Mr. Jay

Is the Minister aware that Dr. Beeching is proposing to close down the railway to Bideford and Torrington?