HC Deb 22 February 1968 vol 759 cc634-5
25. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will define the term full-employment, as used by his Department.

Mr. Dell

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which the Minister of Labour gave him on 19th February.—[Vol. 759, c. 28.]

Mr. Price

Will the Minister say simply and clearly that it is the Government's policy to ensure that no man, woman or young person is denied the opportunity of employment?

Mr. Dell

It is certainly the Government's wish to ensure that no one who wishes to work is unemployed for any length of time. On the other hand, my hon. Friend must remember that the achievement of this ideal objective is dependent on improvement of the balance of payments, the success of our regional policies and the prices and incomes policy.

Mr. Higgins

Is the National Plan based on the assumption of full employment and, if so, what is the figure in quantitative terms?

Mr. Dell

I do not know whether the hon. Member is referring to the past National Plan or to projects to publish further information in future.

Mr. Heffer

Is my hon. Friend aware that the actuary's report which we have recently discussed refers to a 2 per cent. Un-employment level agreed to by the Government? This seems to contradict statements made by the Prime Minister Can we have clarification? Is it Government policy to have 2 per cent. Unemployment or not?

Mr. Dell

No, that certainly is not the policy of the Government. The objective of the Government is to reduce unemployment substantially from its current levels and I hope that will take place in the course of the next 12 months. No doubt my hon. Friend will have seen the unemployment figures issued today, which show a further reduction.

Mr. Marten

If his right hon. Friend is thinking of a planning exercise, can the hon. Gentleman tell us the estimated level of unemployment to the end of this year?

Mr. Dell

No, I cannot give the hon. Member any figure for the level of unemployment to the end of the year. The assumptions on which any document is based will be revealed at the time when the document is published.