HC Deb 10 December 1970 vol 808 cc641-3
Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what specific steps he is taking to reduce the level of unemployment.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Dudley Smith)

All the facilities of my Department's services are available to those needing fresh employment, including special arrangements whereby redundant workers can be given employment information in advance of their discharge. The additional training measures announced on 4th November will also help.—[Vol. 805, c. 383–4.]

Mr. Ashley

What steps are being taken to inform employers and workers in development and intermediate areas about the new scheme to retrain men over 45?

Mr. Smith

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised this point because it is important. We are issuing a special Press notice in the areas concerned and our local officers are being instructed to send individual notifications to all employers who are likely to be of help. Leaflets will also be prepared. We intend to press this vigorously to ensure that as many people as possible know about the scheme.

Mr. Crouch

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the services of his Department are sufficient to deal with the permanent pocket of unemployment in the South-East Region—namely, the Kent coast and, in particular, North-East Kent?

Mr. Smith

I am well aware of the problem on the Kent coast. I visited the area this week and the representations which were made to me will lead to further consultations within my Department. I am satisfied that we can do a great deal, though the general question of curing unemployment is tied up with economic prosperity.

Mr. Bob Brown

Will not the Minister agree that the recent regrettable decision on I.D.Cs. will exacerbate the already desperate position in the North-East of England?

Mr. Smith

No, Sir. I would not accept that suggestion. In fact, the hon. Gentleman may find that it turns out better than he anticipates but, as he knows, this is not a question for me.

Mr. Scott

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the information about available vacancies is sufficiently widely based? Should we not be looking at the way information is spread around the country so that the unemployed are conscious of opportunities on a national basis?

Mr. Smith

My hon. Friend has a very good point there. The more sophisticated our means of transmitting information about vacancies, the more chance there is of getting a successful response, but this is tied up with the question of mobility and we are looking at this very carefully at the moment.

12. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the present rates of male unemployment in the Yorkshire coalfield intermediate area and in the development areas of England.

Mr. Dudley Smith

At 9th November, 1970, the percentage rates of unemployment in the Yorkshire coalfield intermediate area and in the English development areas were 5.5 and 5.9, respectively.

Mr. Hardy

In the light of that answer, will not the hon. Gentleman consider again raising the Yorkshire coalfield area to development area status? The situation revealed by the figures gives us considerable discouragement in South Yorkshire, and I must ask the Minister to accept that there is urgent need for such reconsideration.

Mr. Dudley Smith

As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, the question of development areas is not for me. No one can be complacent about the figures, and we believe that our proposals for retraining for people over 45 may well help quite a number of miners. I have seen for myself the way in which many miners have responded successfully to retraining opportunities.