HC Deb 13 November 1967 vol 754 cc19-20
20. Dr. John Dunwoody

asked the Minister of Labour what are the average weekly earnings in the country as a whole and in Cornwall; and in which counties in England are the average weekly earnings lower than in Cornwall.

Mr. Hattersley

Information on average weekly earnings is not available for areas less than regions. The latest results of the Ministry's half-yearly inquiry into the earnings and hours of manual workers show that in April, 1967, the average weekly earnings of adult male manual workers covered by the inquiry were £19 2s. 11d. in south-western region and £20 11s. 7d. in the United Kingdom. All other regions in England had higher figures than south-western region.

Dr. Dunwoody

Would my hon. Friend not agree that there is a feeling in Cornwall that the average wages in that county are the lowest in the southwest of England? Does he not agree that we cannot really claim success for any of our regional policies until we have brought the standards of deprived areas like Cornwall up at least to the national average?

Mr. Hattersley

My hon. Friend will, no doubt, recall that the answer given earlier this afternoon confirmed that the Government are committed to a policy of improving employment prospects in that sort of region.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that his answer suggests that the South-West is rather a particular case, and should not special measures be taken to deal with it?

Mr. Hattersley

My answer was intended to suggest that it was a special case, in that it has a higher proportion of unemployed and smaller average earnings than the rest of the country, but there are many other areas which could claim such preferential treatment.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Dorset we have the same feeling, that average earnings are low? Is it not time that he gave figures for counties in the South-West?

Mr. Hattersley

The Government are conscious of the need to have all sorts of statistics broken down into rather smaller groups. That problem is being investigated at this moment.