HC Deb 05 June 1967 vol 747 cc605-6
13. Mr. Wright

asked the Minister of Labour what is the latest figure in total numbers and percentage for unemployment in Scotland; and how this compares with the corresponding month in 1962.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. E. Fernyhongh)

The figures were 82,903 and 3.8 per cent. in May, 1967, and 76,000 and 3.5 per cent. in May, 1962.

Mr. Wright

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that these figures are a striking indication that there is a percentage drop in employment for this month, which is the lowest for the last seven years? Do not they deny the statement in the Green Paper that unemployment in the development areas is not developing is unfavourably as in previous periods, and do they not suggest that there is a bleak outlook for Scotland next winter?

Mr. Fernyhongh

I do not know who supplied the hon. Gentleman with the statistics on which he bases his statement that the drop in employment is the worst for seven years. In 1963, for example, 12 months after the year which he chose for his illustration, unemployment in Scotland was 103,749. I hope that what we are doing in the way of investment grants and the S.E.T. premium will bring down the present figure, which I readily accept is very unsatisfactory.

Mr. Dalyell

Is there any indication that some of the unemployed are people between 62 and 65 years of age, who have not, for reasons we can all understand, tried very hard to find employment?

Mr. Fernyhough

I could not reply to that without notice, but it is true that, because there are wage-related benefits, some of the unemployed are taking longer to look for the kind of job they want than they would have taken had they been on the benefits which were in operation when right hon. and hon. Members opposite were in power.

Mr. R. Carr

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware of the results of the important study published in the District Bank Review today, I think, which show that the new system of investment grants on which he now pins so much hope for the future offers less relative incentive to the development areas than the previous system of allowances?

Mr. Fernyhongh

I readily admit that I am not as up to date in my reading as the right hon. Gentleman is, but I do not accept his conclusion in that respect. The situation in my own constituency is a complete contradiction of that view.