HC Deb 13 November 1967 vol 754 cc29-30
57. Mr. Bob Brown

asked the Minister of Labour what are the numbers of unemployed men, women and school-leavers in Newcastle and Newburn; and what were the numbers of unfilled vacancies at the latest date and at July, 1966.

Mr. Fernhough

On 9th October, 1967, there were 2,735 men, 555 women and 206 school-leavers unemployed in Newcastle and 164 men, 17 women and 8 school-leavers unemployed in Newburn. Vacancies notified but unfilled on 4th October. 1967, totalled 1,666 at Newcastle and 29 at Newburn; in July, 1966, the numbers were 3,350 and 38, respectively.

Mr. Brown

Would my hon. Friend accept that, while we have not forgotten that in the squeeze of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) we had 7.2 per cent. unemployment in the Northern Region, we certainly are not complacent about the present figures? Would he further accept that, in view of the failure to attract new industry from private enterprise, the time is long overdue for us to have Government-sponsored industry there?

Mr. Fernyhough

I will draw the attention of the Ministers responsible to the feeling of my hon. Friend that the time has arrived when the Government should not only erect the factories but go into production in them.

Mr. Shinwell

Is not my hon. Friend aware, with his experience of the area, that, throughout the North-East, if the Government were prepared to spend the money, there is a vast amount of work which could be undertaken by unemployed men, particularly by able-bodied men between the ages of 40 and 65, in cleaning up a huge number of derelict sites, unsightly pit heaps and practically the whole of the coast of Durham?

Mr. Fernyhough

That problem is being dealt with now as one of immediacy, but it will not make a major contribution because such work means using mechanical equipment. These are not the kinds of jobs which provide scope for a lot of manual employment. The work certainly needs doing, and the Government are anxious that it should be done and are providing some money to do it, but I do not believe that the solution to the problem as a whole necessarily lies along those lines.

Dame Irene Ward

What are the Government going to do with the Chairman of the North-Eastern Regional Economic Planning Council, who has been as disillusioned as we always knew he would be after trying to serve the Government for some time? What about the election pledges?

Mr. Fernyhough

In the light of some of the comments made by the hon. Lady in the past about the Chairman, I would have thought that she would not give any further views on the matter. If anyone has made his task more difficult, she has.