§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)
I beg to move,
That this House regrets that, as a result of the policies of Her Majesty's Government, the number of people out of work in April was the highest for that month since 1940, and that the total registered unemployed has been over half a million for 32 out of the last 33 months.
We last debated unemployment just over three months ago, on 3rd February. Before I go into the substance of the debate again today, I must draw attention, as I did then, to a remarkable and, in our view, deplorable fact, namely, the absence from the debate of the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity.
As I pointed out last time, that was the first debate on national unemployment, in modern times at least, in which the Minister of Labour, of whatever Government, had not participated. It is repeated today. At least, last time the Minister of State, Department of Employment and Productivity, took part in the debate. This time, we understand that there is to be no spokesman from the Department of Employment and Productivity—[HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] Yet the Government and the right hon. Lady keep making much of the claim that they have converted the old Ministry of Labour into the new Department of Employment and Productivity.
Only last Sunday, at lunchtime, I heard the right hon. Lady being interviewed in "The World This Weekend" programme. I should like to quote two of her remarks. First, in answer to the question:…is there a broad strategy in what the D.E.P. is now trying to do?",the right hon. Lady replied:I think so. When it was turned from the Ministry of Labour into the D.E.P. it was turned from a department tremendously preoccupied with conciliation in strikes"—419 it is hardly that now—into a department with a positive job of manpower planning and our rôle is to parallel in the manpower field with what the Government has been pressing ahead with on the technological side of industry.Later in the same interview the right hon. Lady said:I am trying to deal with manpower problems of this country, which means human problems of technological change.That is the task which the right hon. Lady is claiming to do. Yet for two consecutive unemployment debates she sees fit not to come and address us on the subject for which she is claiming responsibility in the eyes of the country. Today, the right hon. Lady has not even come to listen to the debate, let alone to participate in it.
On 3rd February, we censured the Government for breaking the promises that they had specifically made about full employment at the time of, and shortly after, the last General Election. We demanded that we should have from the Government some plain truth about unemployment prospects and some hard. properly thought out action. We got neither. That is the first reason for debating the subject again today.
The second, and from the country's point of view far more serious, reason for debating the matter again today is that the underlying employment situation has got worse, not better, since February. The total number of unemployed last month at 617,000 was greater than in any April since 1940. It was double what it was in April, 1966, just after the last General Election.
On several occasions since the war we have had, under all Governments, a few months at a time when unemployment reached uncomfortable levels, but always, until the last three years, the high figures were never sustained for long. But this April's figure, for the fourth month running, exceeded 600,000 unemployed and as the Motion states, it was the 32nd month out of the last 33 when the figure rose above half a million. This has now become a problem which, because of the way in which it has been sustained, is one to which the Government must at last address themselves seriously.
Ministers—I am sorry to say the Minister of State, Department of Employ- 420 ment and Productivity, joined in this in the last debate—tend to belittle the problem. Unemployment, they say, is not what it was. They talk about wage-related benefits and redundancy pay which allow workers to look around and pick their new jobs—by implication, to pick their new jobs out of a glittering array of alternative choices.
Of course, there is some truth in this; of course, wage-related benefits and redundancy pay have helped both to take the hardship out of losing one's job or changing one's job and to make movement of labour easier; but there is not much truth in it from the point of view of the total unemployment problem. Just as Marie Antoinette told people who had no bread that they had better eat cake, so Ministers seem to be telling workers who can find no ordinary jobs that they should get better ones. Where are the better jobs which are within the capacity and reach of people unemployed today?
If we want to see the true nature of the problem, the House must look not just at the total unemployed figure, but at the special categories. Look, first, at the long-term unemployment problem. In April, 1966, there were 84,000 on the unemployment register who had been out of jobs for more than six months. This April, that number had risen to 178,000; 30 per cent. of the total unemployed last month have been out of jobs for more than six months. Look at the even worse figure of those who have been out of jobs continuously for more than 12 months. In April, 1966, there were 47,000 men and women who had been out of work continuously for more than a year. This April, that number was 98.000. The number of people out of work continuously for more than a year has more than doubled in the four years of the present Government's life. It has doubled over the country as a whole.
In the Northern Region about a quarter of all those out of work have been unemployed for more than a year. In Wales, it is about 20 per cent.; in Scotland nearly 20 per cent., and for the whole of Great Britain almost 17 per cent. of all those on the unemployment register last month had been continuously out of work for more than 12 months. It is about time that the Government stopped belittling this problem and started to take it seriously.
421 Look, next, at the unemployment among disabled workers. I have not the April figures for the two years: I have the March figures. In March, 1966, at the time of the last General Election, 47,000 registered disabled workers were unemployed. By March this year that had risen to 73,000, an increase of 57 per cent. in the lifetime of the Government. It is in the huge increase in these categories of long-term and disabled unemployed that we see the true measure of what has happened—no, not what has happened, but what has been brought about as a direct and clearly predictable result of the policies which the Government have followed.
§ Mr. Carr
The hon. Member talks about Tory policies. During the whole of our 156 months in power the number of unemployed exceeded half a million for eight—or it may have been nine—months compared with the 32 months out of the last 33 months. If we could get back to Tory policies, the unemployment situation would be a great deal better than it is today.
§ Mr. Joel Barnett (Heywood and Royton)
In current circumstances would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to increase demand even at the expense of balance of payments surplus in order to provide the extra jobs which he talks about not being there at present?
§ Mr. Carr
What I should like to hear, and what the country would like to hear from the hon. Member and his right hon. Friends, is why the Government, from the Prime Minister downwards, gave most categorical assurances that whatever pressures—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."]—unemployment would not be caused, and then adopted policies which predictably were bound to bring about this result. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Over 13 years of Tory gov- 422 ernment unemployment reached half a million in only eight or nine of the 156 months.
§ Mr. Carr
Over the whole of that period of 13 years there was a net balance of payments surplus, if I remember rightly, of £775 million and during the whole of that 13 years the nation's overseas debt was reduced, and not increased. What we did before we can do again. What the Labour Government have done over the last four years is exactly what Labour Governments have done before.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Many of us on this side of the House regard the unemployment situation as extremely serious. We regard these figures as utterly deplorable. Some of us believe that the policies advocated by the Conservatives would make matters even worse. Would the right hon. Gentleman therefore try to persuade us on this matter? Secondly, could he explain what the Conservatives propose to do about assistance received in the development areas which have mitigated these serious figures?
§ Mr. Carr
I realise that of all people the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) cares passionately about unemployment. But we care. When we had charge of the country's affairs we put our caring into action. And when we next have charge of the country's affairs, we shall again convert our caring into action.
I remember how before the Conservative Government came to power in 1951 exactly the same charges were then made by the Labour Party. It said, "If we have a Conservative Government, there will be unemployment." This did not prove to be so, nor will this happen next time.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
Could the right hon. Gentleman describe what he will do about development area grants and how it would affect my own constituency of Ebbw Vale, where people are very concerned about this matter? I should like to know exactly what he proposes to do.
§ Mr. Carr
On another occasion I will willingly debate with the hon. Member about regional policies. Today, we are talking about unemployment as a whole.
423 I cannot for the moment remember the figures for the hon. Member's constituency, or for Wales, but I remember that during the last three or four years of Conservative government the total number of jobs in Scotland increased by about 30,000. I am speaking from memory. Over the last five years of Labour government the number of jobs in Scotland has decreased by almost 50,000. Just as we managed to do better for unemployment in total, so we did better in increasing the number of jobs in areas like Scotland.
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
Does my right hon. Friend not also remember that the last Labour Government, in 1950, said that 3 per cent. unemployment was acceptable.
§ Mr. Carr
That seems to be the policy on which they are working, and they should be more honest in saying it to the country.
We see the same pattern in the regions. I will not give the figures for every region, but that information was given in a recent Written Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker). It will be seen that between April, 1966, and April, 1970, unemployment increased in every region. Similarly, looking at the obverse side of the coin, 700,000 fewer people were in jobs last June, which is the latest time far which figures are available, than were in jobs in March, 1966, at the time of the General Election. That total fall is reflected in almost every region.
I cannot tell the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale the figures for his constituency, but the figures for Wales as a whole show that in June, 1969, there were 50,000 fewer people in jobs than was the case three years earlier. I do not know how many of these were in the hon. Member's constituency. From region to region and, with the exception of East Anglia where there is a small increase, every part of the country shows a reduction in the number of jobs during the lifetime of this Government. These are the facts.
§ Mr. Carr
I could spend a great deal of time giving more and more facts which the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) and his colleagues would not find any more palatable than those to which I have already referred. But these are the facts.
What were the promises? In the dobate on 3rd February, I gave chapter and verse of the promises given by the Prime Minister. I will not weary the House by repeating them today, but every one of them has been broken. I will merely quote two short extracts from the Labour Party election manifesto of 1966. Under the heading, "Full employment policies", on page 14, the Labour Party said:The level of economic activity in the community must be sufficient to provide jobs for all. Labour has always insisted that this can and will be ensured through intelligent management of the economy.On page 5 of the manifesto, a part entitled "Face the facts", we seeWhatever the pressures, it"—that is, the Labour Government—would not jettison the four central objectives of its policy…The third of four objectives listed on that page wasTo maintain full employment…Within three months of winning that election, the Labour Government had embarked on policies the intended, deliberate and inevitable effect of which was to jettison that objective. So much for the promises.
Part of the "intelligent management of the economy" which was to be so wonderful was the much vaunted National Plan of 1965. That plan foresaw a manpower shortage of 400,000. Instead, we have 700,000 fewer jobs and 300,000 more men and women registered unemployed.
Let us go from the present to the future. I hope that the Government Front Bench will tell the House and the country what they believe will happen now. Will unemployment go up or down? The Chancellor, in his Budget, took a cautious view that unemployment should move downwards. We very much hope that he is right. But he gave that view before the April unemployment figures, when there was some sign perhaps that the worst had been reached.
425 The April figures do not confirm that and we should like to have in specific terms from the Government their forecast now—not in precise numbers, of so many hundred thousand, but whether unemployment will go up or down. Obviously, the determining factor is whether the total growth in demand will be greater or less than the growth in productive capacity.
I should like to spend a few moments in considering the main components of the demand, not in any precise or theoretical way but in general. Let us consider exports. Sometimes a broad look at these matters can be a lot more accurate and give far more information and guidance than a spurious casting up of detailed estimates, each of which is more guesswork than fact. Let us use our common sense.
Export demand is still rising, and that is good. However, it is now rising obviously less buoyantly than it was. We can, therefore, look less to buoyancy in exports to provide such a large surge in demand that we could last year. That is shown in the figures published by the Government. This is also a matter of common sense when one looks at the state of the world's economy and at individual countries.
The next element in demand is investment at home. This must have a doubtful outlook. Although hopes are still being expressed by industry of investing on a large scale—unfortunately, not as large as our main competitors in other countries—there are clear signs in industry that profit margins are now being squeezed, and, in some cases, squeezed very seriously. There is, therefore, a real danger of a reduction in the flow of money for self-financing investment within industry. At the same time, it is very difficult indeed at present to raise new capital, at least on terms which makes projects seem viable. This means that considerable doubt is hanging over the trend of investment as an element in total demand. It was surely a grave mistake on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to have taken steps specifically to encourage industrial investment which, if it has not already turned down, is in danger of doing so.
The remaining main component in demand is domestic consumption, and this will almost certainly be the key 426 to the question of unemployment in the next year. On the one hand, we have the wage explosion pushing up demand and, therefore, tending to reduce unemployment. On the other, we have the price explosion mopping up demand and thereby tending to maintain or increase unemployment.
Which of these will win? The price explosion is of nuclear dimensions. So far this year prices have been rising at an annual rate of 7 per cent., if not a bit more. That is at least as fast as immediately after devaluation—indeed, I believe that it is faster than at any time since there was last a Labour Government 20 years ago. Will the price explosion or the wage explosion win in influencing the overall level of demand? What do the Government think about this state of affairs?
Then there is the tight money policy. If wages go up, but money supply is restricted as fiercely as it has been or is projected, it is obvious that production and employment will suffer as a result.
Some factors lead one to think that unemployment might go on rising, while other factors lead one to hope that it might fall. How do the Government see this balance? What are their latest estimates? We ask the Government to give their considered views to the House and not ride off with the normal excuse that Governments do not forecast the movement of unemployment statistics.
The Labour Party made enough promises and forecasts about unemployment in 1966, when it last wanted to win votes. With another election on top of us, let it give its forecasts and promises now, but this time let us have the facts on which they are based, let us see what reality Labour can give to its promises and what faith it can give to people this time, unlike last time, to believe that its promises will be kept and not broken.
I turn from forecasts to action. What must be done? We will solve the unemployment and other related economic problems only within an economy which has a faster rate of growth. We will get a sustainable higher rate of growth only if certain fundamental changes take place in economic policy and industrial environment. In our view, at least six such changes are essential.
§ Mr. Carr
That will be one of them.
Each of these six essentials is a subject for a whole day's debate. I hope that we will have a chance to debate them in full. We would welcome such an opportunity, for only when we have made certain such changes in our economic environment will we find solutions to the problems we face.
First, my right hon. and hon. Friends are absolutely convinced that the tax structure must be reformed in a way deliberately designed to encourage earnings and savings by individuals and companies.
Secondly, however hard to achieve, we are convinced that public expenditure must be contained within a smaller proportion of the total national income. It is the proportion of the national income which is vital, and not the absolute amount. For almost the whole 13 years of Conservative rule we were able to go on increasing Government expenditure while, at the same time, slightly and progressively reducing the proportion it took of the total national income. It was only in the last year or two of those 13 years that we failed to do that.
If we have a lesson to learn from the economics of the post-war era, it is that the trick or method, more important perhaps than any other, by which a healthy economy can be maintained is this business of keeping public expenditure within a proportion, a slightly declining proportion, of the national income.
Thirdly, we must provide a new environment for the conduct of industrial relations.
§ Mr. Ormerose—
§ Mr. Carr
I will not give way. I have given way a great deal already. The more one gives way the less time is available for other hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate. I have made a number of speeches about industrial relations in the last few years and I am looking forward to making another in the near future when, perhaps, the right hon. Lady the First Secretary of State presents her non-event of a Bill.
Fourthly, we must have a more vigorous policy to promote competition.
428 Fifthly, while we need more intervention to ensure competition, we need less intervention to prop up inefficient companies and industries and, generally speaking, less meddling and muddling in people's affairs.
Sixth—and this is where I genuinely regret the absence of the First Secretary of State—we need a much more positive employment policy. That is what I want to talk about for the last few minutes of my speech, and about which, surely, we ought to have heard from the right hon. Lady today.
The present unemployment problem, or at least a part of it stems from the inevitable technological and structural changes taking place in modern industrial economies and requires a more positive and better thought out manpower and employment policy than was necessary perhaps in the years gone by. First, we must pay a great deal more attention to manpower forecasting. I ask the House to note that I use the word "forecasting" rather than "planning". It is no good trying to plan artificial targets of what we shall need in different sectors so many years ahead. We want to keep an updated three- to five-year rolling forecast of what is likely to be needed in the main sectors.
Then, we want to provide a much more sophisticated system of job information, a much more sophisticated and widespread system of job guidance and of employment placing services. All these have to be made much more professional, with much more emphasis on job guidance. Part of this improvement will require us to get clear from the employment exchanges their present business of benefit paying which detracts from, and to some extent degrades, the value of the employment service as a placing service, as a job counselling service, and as a job information service.
§ Mr. Carr
No, I must not give way.
Next, we must have a new look at our redundancy payments scheme. This was introduced, with our support, soon after the Government came to power. Let us be quite clear about that. It has been in operation for some years, and although it is doing some of the job that we wanted it to do, it is becoming more and 429 more clear that it simply is not designed to meet one of the major needs of a modern employment policy, because the benefits provided under our present redundancy payments scheme are determined entirely by past service and age, and not at all by the future needs of a man or woman in the way of retraining or moving to another job.
A person gets precisely the same amount whether he can walk into a good, equal, or perhaps even better job, or whether he has to go through six to 12 months' training and searching before he can get himself redeployed. We must consider the possibility of some form of trainee wage, or mobility pay, call it what one will.
I am certain that we have to look at the whole problem of adult retraining. I know that G.T.C.s are being expanded, and this we welcome; but we do not believe that these on their own can do the whole job. We believe that in connection with the great expansion in retraining opportunities which we must have, we should, after six years' experience, have a look at the organisation of our industrial training boards. This was a Conservative Act, which, on balance, has done great good; but there is increasing evidence that at least some of the boards are not doing quite the job that we would like them to be doing.
When we look as the training effort, not so much in relation to training new entrants to industry, but at the machinery required for retraining adult workers for new opportunities, we realise that there is a strong case for considering a regional basis of administrative organisation, at least for some industries, rather than a vertical industry-wide one which tends to spread the organisation for that industry both extravagantly and thinly over the whole island. This has to be looked into.
I am sure that we have to consider housing policy if we want to get people to move. I admit that most of the work has to be done by bringing jobs to people, but we must make it as easy as possible for people to move. I do not believe that housing policies yet make proper provision for this, nor that the financial aids available for people to move are either sufficiently well publicised or adequate in scale. The money is paid only when the result has been achieved.
430 Then there is the whole problem of the I.R.U.s run by the right hon. Lady's Department. They do admirable work but that, too, could be expanded.
We know that the right hon. Lady's Department is looking into these matters. I believe that a month or two ago she presented a paper on some of these things to the National Economic Development Council, and that makes it all the more important why today the right hon. Lady should have talked about these vital subjects which are her responsibility. We believe that although something is being done, there is an urgent need to give it a new concentration and urgency of attention.
The various aspects of manpower policy about which I have been talking need to be brought under unified direction, and we are actively and deeply considering the advisability of establishing, separate from, but under the umbrella of, the Department of Employment and Productivity, a national manpower commission, or employment services agency—call it what one will, the name is immaterial—which will have all those responsibilities. It would be managed by a chief executive, with a board comprising members from the trade unions, from management. and from the world of education. We believe that there could be real merit in associating industry and education directly with the responsibility for planning and executing the sort of manpower policies which our modern economy needs.
We believe that those are the sort of ideas which are worth considering, and I hope that when they answer the debate the two right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench will tell us what their forecasts really are, give us reasons for those forecasts, and tell us and the country what hard action they will take to bring down this unemployment, and, in particular, to reduce the number of people who have been unemployed for more than 12 months.
§ 4.37 p.m.
The Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning (Mr. Anthony CroEland)
I apologise to the House in advance for the fact that I speak in a croak this afternoon. I apologise, too, if I do not attend the whole debate. This will be due solely to the 431 same mild influenza which causes me to croak rather than to speak boldly this afternoon.
The right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Can) asked why my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State was not taking this debate. There is no mystery of any kind about this. There are two reasons for it. One is that I and my colleagues on the Front Bench think it only fair that we should share amongst ourselves the pleasure and privilege of listening to the right hon. Gentleman. Indeed, if we look back over the years we find that debates on the economic situation, because that is what we are debating this afternoon—
§ Mr. Crosland
We are debating the basic economic and regional situation.
Over the years these debates have been variously taken by Ministers with regional, or labour, or industrial, or Treasury responsibilities. At the moment, as the right hon. Gentleman said in the first half of his speech, the problem of employment is substantially one of the regions and of industrial structure, and it therefore seemed appropriate that I and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology should take the debate.
I, in turn, express some surprise that we are not to hear from the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) who, alone of Opposition spokesmen, has outlined something approaching a specific regional policy. Certainly, the right hon. Member for Mitcham said nothing constructive this afternoon. He confined himself to a few generalities at the end but gave the House no detailed indications of how, in the period immediately ahead, he would cope with the unemployment problem.
I have said that our problem is substantially a regional one. This is shown by the fact that while the percentage of wholly unemployed is less than 2 per cent. in London, the South-East and the West Midlands, it is double that figure or more in Scotland, Wales and the North. I turn, first, therefore, to the regional problem, the continuing unbalance and inequality between the more prosperous and the less prosperous areas, an unbalance which is bitterly and naturally resented by those who live in the less 432 prosperous areas and continuously, and rightly, brought to our attention by hon. Members, from both sides of the House, who represent those areas.
The principal reason for that inequality is not in dispute. It is the exceptionally rapid and severe rundown in employment in the traditional industries on which those regions are heavily dependent. Between mid-1964 and mid1969—these figures are very striking—there was a loss of over 208,000 jobs in coal mining; 134,000 in agriculture. forestry and fishing; 128,000 on the railways; 123,000 in textiles and clothing; 43,000 in metal manufacture; 21,000 in the ports and inland waterways; and 20,000 in shipbuilding and marine engineering. The total drop in those traditional industries during that period amounted to no less than 678,000.
Looking at particular areas, the Northern Region, during that period, lost 45 per cent. of its coal mining jobs, 39 per cent. of its jobs on the railways and 15 per cent. of its jobs in metal manufacture. Scotland lost 38 per cent. of its jobs in coal mining and 28 per cent. of its jobs in agriculture. Wales lost 43 per cent. of its railway jobs and 40 per cent. of its jobs in coal mining.
Some of those industries, of course, were running down before that period, but the rate of rundown was not as fast. During the previous five-year period the drop in unemployment in those industries was 466,000. During the last five years it was 678,000, an increase of nearly one-third. This represents a structural change of quite unusual magnitude. If it were not for the vigorous measures which the present Government have taken, and which I shall describe, this would have led to unemployment of disastrous proportions.
I might add that the problem would have been a great deal less severe if, in the long years before 1964, the party opposite had planned and phased the inevitable contraction in these industrial sectors.
§ Mr. R. Carr
Surely, in 1966, when the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had been in power 18 months, they had some means of foreseeing these changes before they made their promises to the country that unemployment would not rise.
§ Mr. Crosland
I have been speaking for about four minutes. If the right hon. Gentleman allows me to develop my argument, I think that he will find the answer to his question.
As we all well know, this kind of structural problem cannot be solved by across-the-board national policies. If we have a regional imbalance such that we have full employment in some areas at the same time as significant unemployment in other areas—and that is our situation in Britain—then national fiscal and monetary policies cannot reduce the unemployment in the less prosperous areas without creating an unacceptable degree of inflation in the more prosperous areas.
The rate of expansion, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred is, of course, a relevant factor, and I shall come to it a little later. But faster growth alone cannot cure these regional inequalities. For that we need a purposive and systematic regional policy, which is what the Government have embarked upon. I certainly do not claim that it is perfect—far from it—but I will claim that it stands comparison with any in the world and is far in advance of anything that the party opposite have produced.
The most urgent and immediate need in the face of the rundown in employment which I have described was to take steps to deal with the personal and family hardship resulting from the loss of jobs. Some people profess to argue that unemployment has today lost its terrors. The right hon. Member for Mitcham did not argue this, but some people give that impression. It is true that we are not in the 1930s, but the hardship of not being able to find work, especially where this drags on for weeks and months, and especially where someone has been in the same job for many years past, is still very much a reality.
The measures which we have taken since 1964 have, however, gone a long way to mitigate at least the problem of loss of earnings and so to make it easier to adjust to the changes which are taking place so rapidly. Successive increases in flat-rate unemployment benefit, the introduction of earnings-related benefit, the redundancy payments scheme, the help to the older redundant mineworkers 434 —of great importance in many areas—and the greatly developed Government training facilities have all helped at least to lessen the suffering of unemployment. They cannot eliminate it, but at least they mean that unemployment today does not carry with it the degrading poverty that it did in years gone by.
It may be—and here I come to a point that was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman—that those measures have also affected the significance of the unemployment figures. There is evidence to show that the unemployment figures since 1966 do not necessarily indicate the same degree of slackness in the Labour Party; I am sorry, the labour market—[Laughter.] I hope that the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) has read today's Evening Standard, which he will find far from encouraging from his point of view. There is evidence to show that the unemployment figures since 1966 do not necessarily indicate the same degree of slackness as would have been assumed from the same figures previously.
For example, there has been a change in the relationship between outstanding vacancies for men and the number of men wholly unemployed. The proportion of vacancies to unemployed is now much higher than in previous periods. Again, we now have a high level of overtime working and a relatively low level of short-term working in manufacturing industry—both features which would normally be associated with much lower levels of unemployment than we have. We now know that the range of the seasonal fluctuation over recent years is one which would in the past have gone with considerably lower levels of unemployment.
There may be a number of causes for this apparent change in the character of unemployment. But it seems likely that Government efforts to mitigate the worst hardships of unemployment have played a considerable part. It may be that people now somewhat more easily accept redundancy and are more willing to take time in finding a new job.
However, I do not want to make too much of this. The fact is that whether it is true or not unemployment in the regions is still too high and must be reduced. So I turn to the Government's basic policies for reducing the regional 435 imbalance. I shall describe them briefly, as I think that by now they are fairly familiar.
First, the I.D.C. control, which I know well from my days at the Board of Trade. It is, no doubt, unpopular with the C.B.I., with chambers of commerce in the South-East and West Midlands, and even with hon. Members, on both sides, who represent constituencies in those regions, but in my view this unpopularity is the best tribute to its success as an instrument of regional policy.
Secondly, financial incentives. Despite the constraints on public expenditure, preferential assistance to the less prosperous areas has been consistently increased, and in 1969–70 it reached over£310 million compared with about£40 million in 1964–65. Last year, the 20 per cent. regional investment grant differential—introduced in 1966—benefited the development areas by about£96 million. Payments of the regional employment premium—first made in 1967—totalled about£100 million. Assistance under the Local Employment Acts is running at over£80 million a year. In 1968–69, for example, the same number of advance factories were authorised as during the whole of the five-year period 1960–64.
Thirdly, we have done a great deal to improve the infrastructure in the regions. Public investment in new construction in Britain as a whole rose from just over£1,600 milion in 1965–66 to nearly£2,300 million in 1968–69, an increase of 40 per cent.
We are talking here of a wide range of economic and social infrastructure—houses, roads, schools, hospitals, urban redevelopment, new and expanded towns, the renewal of town centres, and so on. Compared with this national increase of 40 per cent. the Northern Region had an increase of 100 per cent. from£83 million to£161 million the North-West Region had an increase of over 50 per cent., and Yorkshire and Humberside an increase of 60 per cent.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
Yesterday, the Minister of Housing and Local Government told the House that the cost of housing had risen by 40 per cent., so the so-called increase is no increase at all.
§ Mr. Crosland
The so-called increase is a real increase. I am concerned with the contrast between the figures for the whole country and the figures for the regions. It is the reality that I am stressing.
The Government have helped in other specific ways. I mention only the resettlement and retraining schemes; the dispersal of Government offices from London and the construction of new offices outside London as a result of which 45,000 Government jobs have been established out of London; 21,000 of them in development areas; and the derelict land grants, to which I shall return later.
Fourthly, and not least important, we have shown that a regional policy can and must be flexible enough to adapt itself to changing circumstances. It must be capable of geographical selectivity which matches the changing needs of different areas—needs that cannot always be defined in a rigid bipartite division of development areas versus the rest. We have been developing policies for all the regions. We have met the accelerated rundown in coal mining by the creation of special development areas, which I announced in November, 1967, and have accepted the case for certain intermediate areas, as embodied in the Local Employment Act, 1970.
These have been our policies. I believe that the achievement has been substantial. It is true that unemployment in the development areas remains generally much higher than the national average. But since 1964 there has been a marked improvement in their unemployment position relative to the national average—and this despite the structural convulsion that I described earlier, the fact that they have borne the brunt of jobs loss in the older industries.
Unemployment figures for the development areas before 1966 are available only for June in each year. In each June, from 1960 to 1964, the development areas accounted for over 40 per cent. of all those unemployed in Britain. In June, 1964, they accounted for nearly 48 per cent. of the total unemployed. But by June, 1969, the figure had fallen to 37 per cent. and at the latest count, in April, 1970, it was only 36 per cent. So, while in mid-1964 the development 437 areas' unemployment rate was over double the national rate, by mid-1969 it had fallen to 1.75 times the national rate.
It is clear, therefore, that the dramatic fall in jobs in the older industries has been to a considerable extent offset by the increased number of new manufacturing jobs which our regional incentives have encouraged. Figures for I.D.C. approvals between 1965 and 1969 give a striking indication of the flow of new jobs into the development areas. About 334,000 jobs were expected to arise in these areas from projects approved in that period. That was 49 per cent. of the total of estimated new jobs for the whole of Britain, although the development areas contain only about 20 per cent. of the employees in Great Britain.
This does not give a complete picture of new jobs in the development areas, since I.D.C. returns do not include new employment created either by firms which increase their labour force without extending their buildings or by firms which—as, for example, in the services sector can build or expand without requiring an I.D.C.
But, and this is forgotten by some who argue against an investment grant differential—it is not only on the number of new jobs created; although that is impressive—the success of development area incentives should be judged; it is also on the quality, variety and durability of employment. Those factors are equally vital. Given the decline in the traditional industries, it is essential to broaden and diversify their industrial base and ensure them a share of modern capital-intensive, science-based industries, as well as of the more labour-intensive industries.
By this token, too, the policies of the last few years have paid a handsome dividend. Many hon. Members from different parts of the country can give their own examples of new science-based, capital-intensive forms of expanding industries that have come to their areas. The imbalance between the regions has lessened, and we can take pride in that fact. Nevertheless, the absolute figures for unemployment are still too high, and the cause is to be found in our national economic situation, to which I now briefly turn.
438 After devaluation the over-riding need was to switch resources on a large scale into the balance of payments and, to a lesser extent, investment. This was the second major structural change that has dominated our economy in recent times. A switch of resources of this magnitude cannot be accomplished without keeping a rigid control over other forms of spending. It requires firm restraint over the total level of demand. Hence the restraints, in successive Budgets, on consumer spending; hence the tight control over public expenditure; and hence, in consequence, a temporarily higher level of unemployment. This was the price we had to pay for restoring the basic health of our economy.
But that process—the switch of resources—has now largely been com-pleted. Exports have risen strongly. Investment has risen, and is still rising. Contrary to the impression given by the right hon. Gentleman, the Financial Times survey of only two days ago expressed an extremely buoyant outlook for both exports and investment. The balance of payments, which, in 1967, showed a deficit of£322 million, on current account, now, in the first quarter of this year, shows a surplus at an annual rate of£600 million. So, having largely accomplished the switch of resources, with its inevitable transitional unemployment, we can this year—as my hon. Friend the Chancellor made clear in his Budget speech—expect a faster rate of growth than for some years past, and a lower level of unemployment.
The Budget also contained a most helpful concession in the shape of the differential initial allowance for industrial buildings. On bank lending, where some queries have been raised, I can now confirm that while overriding priority is accorded to export finance, and to investment and production bringing direct benefit to the balance of payments, the request to the banks to pay regard to the Government's policies on regional development most certainly continue in effect.
Any fool can run a regional policy with an£800 million balance of payments deficit. The measure of the present Government's success is that during a period when we have been faced not only with an accelerated decline in traditional industries, but also with a need to switch 439 resources on a vast scale into the balance of payments, we have kept the increase in unemployment in the development areas below that in the country as a whole. In June, 1964, nearly 48 per cent. of thos e unemployed in Britain were in development areas. By April of this year that figure had fallen to 36 per cent.
The right hon. Gentleman did not give us a detailed account of Tory policies for dealing with regional unemployment. Certainly, on the point of economic growth, where expansion should go faster, the judgment of right hon. Gentlemen opposite has been wrong. They have never suggested—not in this year's Budget, not in last year's Budget, and not in that of the year before—that the Chancellor should have gone in for faster expansion. The suggestion has been made by some of my hon. Friends, but it has never been made by the Opposition Front Bench. If the party opposite has a different policy for reducing unemployment it must be solely in terms of regional policies.
For a long time it appeared that the Opposition totally disapproved of the Government's regional policies, but in the debate on the Northern Region, on 23rd February, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East—I am sorry that he is not here—produced a policy that bore a superficial resemblance to the Government's policies, but with some ominous differences in emphasis.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he would keep the I.D.C. system—good. But there have been discreet references in a Tory publication, "Notes on Current Politics: Regional Development", to operating it more flexibly, which, in practice, can only mean less strictly. These references have caused grave disquiet in the regions. I hope that we shall be assured tonight that the Opposition would tend to administer it with the same firmness as the Government have done in dealing with firms which, without convincing grounds, are reluctant to move to development areas.
Next, the right hon. Gentleman said that they would abolish investment grants, but keep an investment incentive differential. This, again, has caused disquiet in the development areas, especially when it is accompanied by vague warnings that existing investment incentives have been 440 rather too successful in attracting capital intensive industries, such as chemicals and oil refining, to the development areas.
The right hon. Gentleman calls for more selectivity. It has been suggested that the Local Employment Acts might be used in some way to operate the regional investment grant differential. It would be very interesting to know how grants of plant and machinery would be linked with the provision of a particular number of jobs. Perhaps grant would be paid only to projects of "particular value". Just how these would be identified from amongst millions of applications, by the reduced Civil Service which is also an Opposition objective, remains extremely obscure. Industry has been known to complain, even under our present system, that it is sometimes difficult to predict what support a particular project would attract. It would certainly be a great deal more difficult under the arrangements which the Opposition appear to envisage.
Next, R.E.P. is to be phased out, in contrast to the Government's policy, clearly stated in the White Paper, Cmnd. 3310, to maintain it for seven years, and only then to decide, in the light of the circumstances at the time. whether to continue the scheme in full or to taper it off.
It seems oddly inconsistent to criticise the Government's policies for attracting too much capital intensive industry and yet to want to abolish R.E.P. which is a subsidy to labour-intensive industry. It is a direct subsidy to labour costs in areas where unemployment is high, and it encourages the development of labour intensive industry. Nothing has emerged since it was introduced to contradict our view that it will prove to have an extremely low economic cost.
However, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East has some solace for us. In our debate on 23rd February, he said that…for everyone who is sad about the end of R.E.P., there will be at least one, if not two, who will rejoice at the end of S.E.T."— [OFFiciAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1970; Vol. 796. c. 867.]What the right hon. Gentleman omitted to tell us was how many might be even sadder about the introduction of V.A.T. There will hardly be dancing in the streets for that.
441 Next, say the Opposition, the infrastructure is to be improved. I have already shown how much it has already been improved under this Government. We must be allowed a little scepticism at the idea that a Tory Chancellor, committed simultaneously to drastic cuts in public expenditure, sweeping reductions in direct taxation, and the abolition of purchase tax and S.E.T., could do much better than we have done—even with the help of V.A.T.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to comment on the fact that while our regional policies were in force employment in Scotland went up by 30,000, whereas while his Government's regional policies have been in force it has dropped by 41,000?
§ Mr. Crosland
The whole of my speech so far has been devoted to an attempt to explain this as being due partly to the rundown of older industries in Scotland and elsewhere, and partly to the need for a large switch of resources into balance of payments and investment.
The Opposition's last suggestion is that the environment should be improved. Of all their suggestions I find this to be the suggestion that invokes in me, at any rate, the hollowest laugh. Let us take the question of derelict land clearance, so crucial to improving the environment. When the Tories came back in 1951 they suspended all grants for clearance between then and 1959. They did then reintroduce grants, at a modest level, but very little was paid between 1960 and 1964. We, by contrast, now pay 85 per cent. grants in development areas, 75 per cent. grants in intermediate and derelict land clearance areas, and 50 per cent. grants over the whole of the rest of the country.
As a result, in the last two or three years, for the first time, clearance of derelict land has at last got under way. Expenditure five years ago was negligible—virtually nothing. It rose to£2 million last year. I estimate that it will be£3 million in the current year, and I hope that it will rise to£6 million in 1973–74, and that we shall be able to clear the worst of our derelict land in the next 10 years—something what would have been quite impossible under the level of 442 grants which the party opposite was giving.
The trouble is that the Tories, on this as on other things, strain our credulity too hard. Their attacks on the Government have become extravagant in tone and irresponsible in content. Nobody now believes what they say about unemployment, law and order, trade union reform or taxation and public expenditure. As recent public opinion polls show very clearly, they are grossly underrating the intelligence of the electorate.
Of course, we are not complacent, as I hope I have made clear, about the unemployment situation. We are constantly examining all our policies, and we are certainly prepared to adapt them as experience or changing circumstances requires. But when I consider the massive structural changes with which they have had to cope in the last few years, I claim that these policies have been remarkably successful. And I add that anyone who thinks that the problem of unemployment will be safer in Tory hands must be, quite simply, out of his mind.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Many hon. Members wish to speak in this debate. May I successfully appeal for brief speeches, which will assist the Chair and enable many of the hon. Members wishing to speak to participate in the debate.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
Over the last two years internal strife has replaced unemployment as the most popular topic to be discussed when Northern Ireland is mentioned. But although strife has filled the headlines, unemployment in Northern Ireland remains. It would be quite untrue to suggest, as some hon. Members have suggested, that civil strife and disturbance are largely the result of unemployment, but there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that the high level of unemployment in Northern Ireland has added bitterness and a wider dimension to our civil troubles.
Typical of just this situation is the statement made to me the other day by a man in a heavy industry in my constituency. He said, "Not for five years have I been able to have any confidence in the future of my job. I have never been able to see firm employment for 443 more than three months ahead. It is pure luck that I have a job in the factory, but it may be gone in a few months' time." Men with that uncertainty in their minds must be much more likely to enter into the civil disturbance and strife of the sort we have had in Northern Ireland.
In April, we had 35,000 unemployed in Northern Ireland, and that represents 6.9 per cent. of the population. Perhaps more disturbing than the percentage and the total figure is the fact that the activity rate, the percentage of population in gainful employment, is 10 per cent. below that for the rest of the United Kingdom. A small part of that difference can be explained by the large number of small farmers, and the fact that the activities of farmers' wives may not be included, but we cannot accept an activity rate 10 per cent. lower than that for the rest of the United Kingdom together with an altogether lower level of wages. It certainly adds to the incentive to trouble, strife, riot, and the horrors we have recently had in Northern Ireland.
It has been said on a number of occasions that when South-East England sneezes the outlying regions catch cold. All I can say is that, thank God, such a state of things has not been entirely true on this occasion. The level of unemployment in Northern Ireland has not, over the last five years, increased by the 5.9 per cent. it has in the rest of England as a whole.
We have in Northern Ireland just succeeded in holding our own over the last five years at the tragically high figure of 7 per cent. unemployment. But the change over the last five years is the change in attitude and the complete loss of optimism. In 1964 and 1965 and even up to 1966 there was genuine hope that, by the early 1970s, we would be bringing the 7 per cent. unemployment rate down to 4 or even 3 per cent. Although I do not think that even 3 per cent. is an acceptable rate, it would be acceptable if we could create it next year or the year after in Northern Ireland.
This loss of optimism and of dynamism has added to the bitterness and troubles. We looked forward in particular to tackling the really high pockets of unemployment. Hon. Members have mentioned on occasion the very high levels of unemployment in the western 444 part of the country. I had looked forward in these years, but now with less hope, to tackling the 12 and 14 per cent. unemployment pockets in the northern end of my constituency, which are not in the west of Ulster.
There can be no doubt that the slowing down of industrial expansion, which had been steadily moving outwards from Belfast from the mid-fifties onwards, enabled people to suggest that there was some special difference between the east and the west of Ulster and that this added to the fire and bitterness of the troubles we have had. We are now reaching the end of the five year targets set by the Wilson Report for Northern Ireland, and it is a matter of some pride for the Ministry of Commerce of Northern Ireland, which is no laggard in finding new jobs, that we just managed to keep pace with the targets for industrial jobs.
§ Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)
The hon. Gentleman compares the east and the west of Northern Ireland. The unemployment figure in Deny was almost double that of Belfast and the eastern areas.
§ Mr. Clark
I did not want to go into this in great detail, but within a radius of 30 to 35 miles from Belfast there is almost full employment. That area was moving steadily outwards at a rate of perhaps a mile or even two miles a year in the early 1960s. There always has to be a growth point from which to grow, and the growth point here was Belfast. Unfortunately, the expansion of the prosperous area around Belfast has come to an end and there is no doubt that this has led to a considerable degree of bitterness and dispute.
We have achieved the Wilson targets for industrial employment and I have said that this has been due considerably to the Northern Ireland Ministry of Commerce. But we have fallen short in the creation of new jobs in service industries. In that sector, there has been a considerable shortfall on the very modest and conservative targets set by the Wilson Report. The Government cannot deny that selective employment tax has to some extent held back the expansion of employment in service industries. After all that was one of the aims of the tax. The Northern Ireland Government have 445 been able to soften the blow to some extent but there is no doubt that S.E.T. still provides a disincentive. I am continually receiving complaints about it from my constituents and all parts of Northern Ireland.
As a remote area of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is particularly sensitive to transport costs, yet one feature of the Government's policy over the last five years is that they have taken every opportunity to add to transport costs through taxation and restrictive legislation. My belief is that the Northern Ireland Government might have been well advised to have broken loose from the£25 motor vehicle tax and to have kept it at a lower level in Northern Ireland. I am sorry that they felt that they must have a step-by-step policy with the United Kingdom Government, because a car is not a luxury for everyone. In remote places it is an expensive necessity in order to be able to find a job.
A classic case has recently been brought to my attention. Northern Ireland Trailers, a Northern Ireland-based firm, recently announced a 10 per cent. increase in freight charges on the Irish Sea to the Republic of Ireland but a 12½ per cent. increase to Northern Ireland. In correspondence with the firm, I discovered that it was restrictive legislation and the high taxation in the United Kingdom which had resulted in the additional 2½ per cent. for Northern Ireland. The firm also warned that restrictions on drivers' hours may well in future force it to raise charges to Northern Ireland yet again, but not to the South. This is a test case in which one can see how restrictive the Government's legislation has been.
The air fare between London and Belfast—very important for managerial and consulting services—has crept up from£14 10s. five years ago to just on£20 today. The need for journeys between London and Belfast is a factor which must bear heavily on the budgets of smaller companies which we are trying to attract to the remoter areas of Northern Ireland.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) dealt effectively with the poor climate for industrial investment created by the Government. 1 446 believe that this is the root of the industrial stagnation which threatens Northern Ireland. During 1969 and 1970, we have had in Northern Ireland the disincentive of civil disturbances and it is tragic that these are so often backed by those who need and cry loudest for more jobs. Internal security is a matter for the Northern Ireland Government but it is shared today by the British Army, and I speak for the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland when I say that we should like to see a considerably more robust attitude from the British Army towards those who break the law in Northern Ireland, so that we can restore peace and get back to the confidence which the creation of the jobs in Northern Ireland need so badly.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I attach the greatest importance, as he does, to more jobs being secured for Northern Ireland. I said so when I was in Derry. They are needed to help both economically and politically. But there is a curious omission from his speech. When he claimed some success, he claimed it for the Ministry of Commerce in the Stormont Government. He has not mentioned any of the economic help which has gone from the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland under the present Government. When I was in Belfast, many of the supporters of the party to which he belongs, stressing the importance of the United Kingdom connection, were saying that a lot of help was coming from London.
§ Mr. Clark
—but the people who take the initiative for finding new industrial jobs are in the Ministry of Commerce, and they have taken a number of bold initiatives. The trouble during the last five years is that the edge which the Northern Ireland Government had over 447 other development areas in the United Kingdom has been considerably eroded. We are now competing on virtually level terms with all the other development areas, whereas previously we had a considerable edge over them and a higher level of incentive to bring industry into Northern Ireland.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop (South Shields)
The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Henry Clark) has dealt with regional policy, something astonishingly completely missing from the speech of the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr). The right hon. Gentleman's speech was one of the most curious openings I have ever heard of what, after all, is a debate on a censure Motion. It consisted of a series of broad political generalisations at the beginning and became somewhat more constructive towards the end, when the right hon. Gentleman made a series of modest, useful, administrative propositions which have been discussed jointly in the O.E.C.D. and other international bodies concerned with industrial policies. They were propositions to which many of us would not take exception. and the Government have been following many of the proposals. The right hon. Gentleman was rather belated in putting them forward as his own policy and his speech was an extraordinary mixture.
I care passionately about unemployment and the level of unemployment which my constituency has to face. I do not make any apology for using the facts of the situation in my constituency to try to deal constructively with the problem of unemployment and so make valuable a debate which, from the Opposition would have been useless.
Of course unemployment is a regional matter, and there are heavy pockets of unemployment within regions. Even within the Northern Region, which overall has an average high level of unemployment, there are large areas which have made great progress, and we all delight in that, largely because of Government action. There are areas on Teesside and elsewhere, which suffered severely in the past, which have seen rapid and important developments. Many parts of County Durham and of Northum- 448 berland and even of Tyneside, even Newcastle itself, have benefited from these developments.
Unfortunately, there are large pockets of severe unemployment, and they include the area I represent. We now have 3,000 men out of work in South Shields alone, and this represents 14 per cent. of men able to work. This level is utterly unacceptable. Alas, many of them have been out of work for a considerable time. Many are older men. Just under onethird—and this is also true of the adjacent area—are over 55.
A large proportion of these are ex-miners who are receiving the special mining allowance which the Labour Government introduced. Whether the Conservatives would have done anything of the sort is a very big question. A considerable number of older men thus receive 90 per cent. of their former earnings for three years. Nevertheless, this older group is an important part of the problem. We should not write off these men. They are still able to make a useful contribution to the economy and it is a waste of their ability, and sometimes of their skill, not to be able to use them.
Within the total of unemployed, 850 men previously worked in shipbuilding, ship repair and marine contracting, mainly related to the ship-repair industry. Many are unskilled men. The news on Tyneside about the possible closure of Palmer's Yard in Hebburn adjacent to my constituency adds to the current deep anxiety. This must be seen as part of the wider problem of the ship-repair industry. We must take special action here, not only because of the threatened closure of Palmer's Yard, but because of the serious position of many other repair yards.
There is a heavy concentration of ship-repair work towards the mouth of the Tyne, on both sides of the river. We are awaiting a report from the Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Council, but we cannot afford to wait for that report for long. We want to know in what way the Government can help the industry to get back in a position to have a bigger share of the world's ship repair work. We should not take the pessimistic view and say that changes in the size of ships and so on will rule out all chance of bringing 449 employment to men in the British shiprepair industry. Much of the shipping industry is still in smaller ships, some very large, but never-the less smaller than the mammoth ships which we have recently been building on the Tyne. A big job has still to be done to keep them in good repair.
What action can be taken to help to ensure that we have our full share of that work? We are certain that there is a big job of modernisation to be done and perhaps an operation similar to that successfully carried out on the Tyne for shipbuilding needs to be done for the ship-repair industry. Far too many ships, and British ships, are being repaired abroad. We have to consider whether there is any way, within the rules of E.F.T.A. and so on, in which we may ensure that a bigger share is available to our own yards.
We need to set up an action group representing the Ministries chiefly concerned, the local authorities and the trade unions, to try to iron out the difficulties in the special areas of unemployment, an action group to speed action. To some extent, this is beginning to come about. My hon. Friend the Minister of State came to discuss the problems of South Shields only a short time ago, and I am told that there has been some recent help from the Departments to clear up some of our problems.
For example, we are short of proper sites for industrial development in the immediate area. There are many complicated problems involved in making sites available for large-scale industry which would employ about 1,000 men. However, this could be done. There are industries which want to have sites on the Tyne. We cannot get sufficiently large sites, but there are many projects involving areas along the river which could be used for industrial purposes. Some of these projects are beginning to go ahead, but not fast enough. We need an action group to ensure that the blocks are eliminated.
I am sorry that my local authority is not going ahead with some roadwork projects closely linked with these potential industrial areas. I hope that it will reconsider this. The Government are offering£750,000 towards the£1 million scheme, and at present the local authority has postponed it. That is tragic when 450 we need access to the site so badly. I hope that it can be persuaded to go ahead with the scheme.
I firmly believe that the solution to many of our problems is well within our capacity. As we have been able to succeed in bringing new employment to other areas that were in equally difficult situations, so I believe that we can cure this problem.
We have a special responsibility towards some of the younger people. Sadly there are still far too many young people who have been out of work for six months and more in my area. This is quite unacceptable. I ask for special attention to be paid to the proposal that I have made time and again, in the House and elsewhere, for use to be made of the potential facilities of the Marine and Technical College, which is willing to make these facilities available to help with preliminary engineering training for many of these young men who are on the streets without work after leaving school. In such conditions they naturally move into violence and this may be one of the factors in the violence that we have seen in some of these areas.
I have tried to put forward a limited number of constructive proposals to which I have every confidence we can get the right answer from the Government. All that I propose has been done with success elsewhere. This is a challenge that our Government can face. While I reject with utter cynicism some of the comments made from the other side of the House because we know that such proposals as we have heard from that quarter are only too likely to push us further into trouble. I expect something different from my own Front Bench. I hope to have a specific answer to my proposals quickly.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Esmond Wright (Glasgow, Pollok)
It is a singular honour that you are conferring on me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in that following South Shields and Ulster, Scotland should be given its rightful priority. It is natural that I should endorse what the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) has said, because as he knows I have considerable concern with his native area, the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with which he was for a long time associated as Member for 451 Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East. I want to continue the theme of this debate because the challenge was put out to this side of the House that we were extravagant in tone. I have no wish to be extravagant in tone about a subject much too important to justify polemics. What I am concerned about is that the very same structural imbalance is unhappily, the same in May, 1970, as it was, in ratio, back in the 1930s, which the hon. Member for South Shields will remember perhaps as vividly as I. He will no doubt recall Palmer's Yard on the Tyne in those days.
It is a curious phenomenon that this Government have produced, a quite unique economic situation—an economy of high wages, high unemployment, yet at the same time low productivity. There is no change between the ratio of 1966 and the ratio of today. It is still almost a ninefold increase in earnings as against a fivefold increase in prices, as against a 1½ per cent. increase in productivity. That is the abiding indictment of this Government. It is a political tactic of the Government in this run-up to the General Election to say, "Never mind about productivity, let us leave the price spiral to take account of things after October, because it is the earnings that are clearly important." The reason why there is such pride among the other side in the recent opinion polls is bound up with this.
In today's economy, rather than face the threat of unofficial strikes, employers are ready to pay phenomenally high wage increases of 10 per cent. and 11 per cent. to buy off trouble. In this sense they may, indirectly and unwittingly, worsen the problem of productivity. As I see it, prices will rise fast but unfortunately so will unemployment, and there has as yet been hardly any increase in productivity. We have already had some figures. The total unemployed in the United Kingdom is now 617,000 and since December, 1966, there have been only 11 months during which the figure has dropped below 550,000. In Scotland we now have the situation in which the figures are despairingly high. The average is 4.3 per cent. About 20 per cent. of those unemployed in Scotland have been out of work for over a year, and 18 per cent. are over the age of 55.
I say quite soberly to the Government, a Government which at any rate on their 452 placards talk about heart: where is this heart? Where is their concern for full employment and the anguish that unemployment produces in so many thousands of homes? The basic criticism of this Government is that they have failed to solve the regional economic problem. I am glad that the Ministers concerned with regional affairs are dealing with the debate. I suspect that we will get a great deal more economic sense from their two speeches than from the right hon. Lady who ought to have been here.
In Scotland a few weeks ago there were seven adults unemployed for every available vacancy. In Glasgow, a few weeks ago, there were 22,600 people out of work, an increase of 1.000 over the same period a year ago. There is a fundamental problem of human anguish, waste of resources and a worrying problem of cost. The other day I costed the high price of Socialism for Scotland. The figures seem almost incredible. In terms of the extra rate burdens the cost has been£42 million over the last 5½ years; in terms of increased interest charges, a further£32 million.
We have lost about 36,000 jobs. Estimating those at an earning power of around£1,000 a year this means a loss of another£36 million. There is, at the very outside,£100 million already. Add that the rate of inflation has cost us, reckoning on 2 million wage and salary earners in Scotland, over£400 million, because the "£1 in your pocket" is now worth 15s. 10d. We have a debt of£3,000 million, which works out in Scotland as£300 million for a 1 in 10 ratio. There is extra taxation of at least£3,000 million which works out in Scotland as another£300 million. Adding it all up, it comes, even at that point, to well over£1,000 million for Scotland alone.
I have not mentioned S.E.T., which in its impact on the service industries, tourism and hotels—indeed, in its impact on the quality of life—is a basic blow. We should also add mortgage rates, and high prices, and the cost to Scotland of the regional employment premium of£40 million. I ask the Minister of Technology to bear in mind the cost which we are paying to maintain unemployment at the old level. I want an answer from him, if answer he can give, to this curious paradox.
453 In Scotland, there are special issues which worry all of us who represent Scottish constituencies. Government expenditure on defence in Scotland has always unhappily been low, but in the last 12 to 18 months we have had the closure of almost all the basic defence stations in Scotland. We have had the closure of H.M.S. "Condor", the Royal Naval Air Station, at Arbroath; the takeover by the R.A.F. of the Royal Naval Station at Lossiemouth; the closure of the torpedo factory at Alexandria; and its take-over by Plessey; the closure of the R.N. Store at Almondbank in Perthshire; the closure of the engineering school at H.M.S. "Caledonia", at Rosyth; and the closure of the ordnance depot at Irvine; and the closure of the submarine attack school at Port Bannatyne, in Bute.
I ask hon. Members opposite who are concerned about Scottish nationalism to notice how this policy has played into the hands—perhaps now the palsied hands—of the Scottish Nationalists. There is a plain indifference, not only to the defence interests of Scotland, but to the economic interests of Scotland. I add the point on which, it is true, a different gloss can be put of persistent emigration from Scotland, even if in the last few months the figures are not quite as bad as they used to be.
I wish to mention in the presence of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) a point of which I hope he will take note. If there has been a single source of economic boom in Scotland in the last few years, it has been due to the immigration of foreign companies, not least American companies. Since 1945 no fewer than 360 non-Scottish based industries have moved to Scotland—two-thirds of them since 1960. Since 1953, 89 American based companies have moved to Scotland. The increase in employment in manufacturing industry in Scotland has taken place, disturbingly and almost totally, in American-owned firms.
There is a basic problem, and I know that the Minister is concerned about it because I once took part with him in a television debate on the changing character of Scottish and, indeed, United Kingdom society under Americanisation. In Scotland there has been a rundown in agriculture of 32,000, rundown in mining of 42,000, and a rundown in ship- 454 building of 20,000. The two great industrial sectors which have developed in Scotland over the last decade are the construction industry, in which 30,000 more people are employed, and the service industries, in which nearly 50,000 more people are employed. Yet it is precisely these industries which are hit by selective employment tax, which are compelled to pay£23 million to the United Kingdom Exchequer.
I now consider the future. We on this side of the House are constantly challenged to say what we would do. All that we heard from the Minister was about industrial development certificates, Government grants of greater or lesser degree, the word "infrastructure—"which emanates from the Toothill Report of 1963 which was made while the Conservative Administration was in office—and the phrase "geographical selectivity". I wish to deal with this issue by putting five fundamental questions.
First, what is the effectiveness of the policy of grants to industry in Scotland or in any region of the United Kingdom? I know that the Ministry of Technology is involved in a study of this matter, and I would welcome any advance information about it if it can be given. I accept the wisdom of industrial development certificates. I doubt whether that is an issue between us. I doubt whether anyone, except perhaps the absent members of the Welsh and Scottish National Parties, would question whether there should be the emphasis on centralisation implicit in industrial development certificates. There must be some centralised control if industry is to be steered.
However, the policy of grants to industry is phenomenally expensive. The Minister gave the figure of£310 million. Is not this policy much too blunt a weapon? We are persuading industry to go to Scotland, but we are not stimulating home-grown Scottish industry to modernise and develop. There are too many firms in which the balance sheet suggests a profit which exactly equals the regional employment premium which they get from the Government. The regional employment premium is too indiscriminate. Why should it be paid to industry already in the area? Has it helped the modernisation of native firms already in being? Has it not encouraged over-manning? I thought that the 455 Minister admitted that without putting it in that form.
Selective employment tax should go for all the reasons which I have given. There are, however, times when the Conservative Party is in danger of chanting "S.E.T. must go" as if it were the only economic incantation necessary. We need to say very much more.
The Professor of Political Economy at the University of Glasgow, Prof. Wilson, suggested that grants to firms moving in should be replaced by loans, which might not then need to be repaid if the promise of new jobs provided by them were fulfilled. This codicil to the grant might be a useful step.
My second question is based on the firm fact that Scotland—and I imagine that this is true of Ulster and Wales—is not a homogeneous country. The measures which helped to solve the problems of the Lowlands, no doubt producing congestion in their wake, will not solve the problems of the Highlands and the Islands. Has the Minister's Department considered, or is it prepared to consider, regional variations inside the formula? Is it true that when Prof. Kaldor, who I think originated what is now called selective employment tax, first brought the plans forward they took not the present form of emphasis on industry versus service trades, but a regional form. It might well be useful to revert to the regional variant.
I turn now to my third question. When we are discussing manpower planning and forecasting, cannot more attention be given to training and retraining? Again, I concede that there are 10 Government training centres and that a great deal of emphasis is put on this by the present Government, but the number of places is puny considering the nature of the problem. In Scotland, there are precisely 1,500 places. I admit that, in 1960, there were only 200 places, but an increase of 1,300 is very marginal.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in the year when we had the highest unemployment of 815,000—quite different from what we are talking about today—there were 10 Government training centres and that, in that climate, when the need was 456 so great, the hon. Gentleman's party closed two of them?
§ Mr. Wright
As I said at the outset, I am concerned about the future, not the past. I was not in the House when those decisions were taken. I am emphasising that talk about Government training centres is a marginal matter in view of the scale of unemployment which Scotland and the United Kingdom are facing. What concerns me is how far genuine efforts are being made by the Government to persuade the unions to accept the products of the training centres, and to ensure that people who accept training, and who often move house to have it, are assured of a job after they have been trained.
My fourth question is about the fundamental problem of training management and the higher skills in Scotland. As of a few days ago, thanks largely to the U.G.C., there has been a grant for management training to three universities in Scotland, Strathclyde, Heriot Watt and the University of Glasgow, but we have only begun to nibble at the problem. The Minister, who knows the United States, will accept that the Stamford campus, whatever may be its tensions today or this week, and its notion of a close link with science, or the M.I.T., or the North Carolina triangle at Chapel Hill, are models for us to copy in Scotland. It would not be difficult—indeed, steps are already being taken by Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow—to have close links with industry. These steps should be fostered by the Government and with Government help.
My fifth and final question is less a question of information than one of rhetoric. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) said that there was a need for "sea changes". I believe that one of our blights in this country is that we are governed by economic men, with all the limitations of economic men. We are governed by plans and planners, and the harsh fact is that the plans have not been able to predict what has happened. We have had plans now for 5½ years, and all we can do is laugh at them on both sides of the House. There is a sharp difference, for instance, between the situation in Upper Clyde and its repercussions in Cammel Laird and Harland and Wolff and the situation in the lower reaches of 457 the Clyde at Scott Lithgow. Why is there a sense of enterprise and adventure, why are there jobs and security on the lower but not on the upper reaches of the river? I recognise that the Minister is personally involved in this and has done a great deal as an individual to try to cope with it.
Why is it that Hewlett-Packard at South Queensferry is booming, with an increase in jobs from 500 to 1,500, whereas Rolls-Royce is paying off 1,100 skilled men? The answer is that planning means bureaucracy. Planning has meant 1,500 extra civil servants in St. Andrews House in this same period of 5½ years.
I believe that Scotland certainly needs a sea change. Its call is for enterprise, for greater freedom, and the only way in which a Government can stimulate freedom and enterprise is lower taxation and a sense of challenge and adventure in the economy.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) and the party to which he belongs have a collossal nerve to lecture us on some of the problems which he posed but steadily refuses to give answers to. What we look for from the party opposite and what we looked for from the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr), who moved what is, after all, a censure on the Government, is alternative proposals to solve the undoubtedly worrying problem of unemployment in the various regions.
When the hon. Member for Pollok talks about the new phenomenon of high wages, high unemployment and low productivity, and then talks about the "phenomenal" wage increases, he is talking complete and utter nonsense—unless he says that the recent 20 per cent. increase which we gave the nurses is a phenomenal wage increase, unacceptable to the party opposite, or that the recent increases to lower-paid workers would be prevented, by means of an incomes policy, by the party opposite. They are consistently on record as opposing any attempt to impose an incomes policy. They must spell out these things. It is no sufficient answer to belly-ache about these matters without saying what they would do about them.
458 I would refer the hon. Gentleman, when he says that there has been no increase in productivity, to a recent issue of the Bank Review of Hill Samuel, the merchant bankers who, in 1968, gave£25,000 to Tory Party funds and so cannot be accused of being Labour Party sympathisers. An article in that publication pointed to the amazing record of the nationalised industries over 20 years. Since 1948, the productivity record of all the nationalised industries is, on average, 40 per cent. greater than that of the private enterprise which hon. Members opposite believe in.
The hon. Gentleman also talked about shipbuilding. If this Government had not injected public money into the Clyde through the Shipbuilding Industry Act, there would have been no shipbuilding industry on the Clyde today. We see in the newspaper this morning—in the Glasgow Herald, I think—that the Tory Party's solution is to split up U.C.S. and sell it off in little bits. I was about to say that I do not know what the Scottish people think about that, but they have given a sufficient answer in the local election results. There is as much correspondence between the Tory Party interests in Scotland and the Scottish people as there is between Peking and Glasgow.
The hon. Gentleman referred to unemployment in Scotland in immoderate terms. Let us look at the record. In 1951, when the Labour Government went out of office, the average monthly unemployment figure in Scotland, in thousands, was 53.4. In 1963, 12 years after the Tory Party came to power, it had gone up to 104.8, nearly a 100 per cent. increase. This is the party which is trying to persuade the House and the Scottish people that it has the answer to this problem.
§ Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)
Instead of being selective, and taking figures for periods when bad weather caused unemployment, will the hon. Gentleman include the 1964 figures?
§ Mr. Hamilton
I am about to come to that. For six successive months, from December, 1962, to May, 1963, there were in Scotland well over 100,000 each month on the dole. In those same six months, over half the unemployed had 459 been unemployed for eight weeks or more. In March, 1963, over 75,000 had been out of work for eight weeks or more. The peak of 136,000 in February, 1963, represented a 6.2 percentage rate, and 7.6 in the development areas. In 1964 the average monthly unemployment, in thousands was 80.3. It went from 53.4 in 1951 to 80.3 in 1964, after 13 years of Conservative Government. This is a story of massive Tory ineptitude and failure to tackle the problem.
The relative figure between Scotland and Great Britain as a whole has considerably narrowed. Under the Tory Government in 1960 Scotland had 2.23 times as much unemployment as the average in Great Britain. In 1961 it was 2.18; in 1962, 1.9; in 1963, 2.03; in 1964, 2.23; in 1965, 2.15. During all those years there was on average twice the rate of unemployment in Scotland than there was in Great Britain as a whole.
Let us see what has happened since then. For Scotland the figure was 1.98 in 1966; in 1967, 1.65; in 1968, 1.58; in 1969, 1.56. There has been a steady diminution in the gap between the percentage rates of unemployment in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The hon. Gentleman may talk about the failure of regional policies, but those figures are a sufficient commentary on the success of those policies. In no single month since October, 1964, when the Labour Government took over, has there been more than 100,000 unemployed, despite the squeeze and the freeze. Despite all the policies that we had to pursue for balance of payments reasons, there has never been anything approaching the 105,000 average monthly unemployment figure in the twelfth year of the Tory Government. Another encouraging feature not mentioned by the hon. Gentleman is the continuing movement in the employment Position of school leavers in Scotland. There is not such a big improvement as we should like and shall eventually get. None of these solutions to the problem will work overnight. but we are seeing undeniable evidence of improvement.
The hon. Gentleman spoke of the need for differential policies between the Lowlands, the central industrial belt and the 460 Highlands, but he must know as well as I that the developments in the Lowlands and in the Highlands are a direct result of the regional policies and the different machinery which we are using. The Highland and Islands Development Board was made by this Government. During the 13 years of Conservative rule there was steady depopulation of the Highlands. There was no industry and no new life being breathed into the Highlands. On the contrary, the Conservatives intended to implement the Beeching Report proposals for the closure of railway lines, and this was one of the major reasons why in the Highlands they lost seats to the Liberal Party and to us.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I know the hon. Gentleman likes to be fair, and I am sure he does not want to distort the truth. Will he tell the House who brought the pulp mill to Fort William, and why the number of jobs in Scotland declined by nearly 60,000 between 1965 and 1969? Will he paint the full picture?
§ Mr. Hamilton
I wish the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) would curb his interventions. I shall be fairly comprehensive in my coverage. If I am incited by interventions the hon. Gentleman must expect answers to them. Of course the pulp mill went there, but not of its own initiative. The Conservative Party, belatedly, in the 1960's and in the runup to the election, sought to encourage private industry to go to places where it would not otherwise have gone. It was the same with the motor car industry which had to be given massive grants and loans. The Labour Government have encouraged private and public industry to go to Scotland and there has been over the last few years a massive industrial reconstruction.
The hon. Gentleman spoke of the rundown in agriculture, coal mining and shipbuilding, the contraction of older industries and newer industries taking their place. This rundown has now reached its nadir, and we have probably seen the end of it. From now on we shall see a build up of the new industries of the future. In Fife and in the East of Scotland, there is a complex of electronics industries bigger than anywhere else in the world outside California. I see in my 461 constituency a remarkable transformation, with the minimum of friction, from an almost exclusively coal mining economy to a diversified industrial structure of electronics, light engineering, textiles and so on, and the people are happier and healthier socially and economically. There are isolated rural communities in the West of Scotland and elsewhere where unemployment remains high. I hope that whoever is to reply to the debate will give the House a breakdown of the unemployment figures.
There is a new phenomenon here. We have high unemployment but that of itself tells us little about the nature of the problem. The Central Office of Statistics and the Department of Employment and Productivity are going into the problem of trying to break down the figures to find out the number of skilled and unskilled, the age groups involved and the number of people who are changing from one job to another. Because of redundancy payments and high social security benefits they are taking their time over the matter. All this detail needs to be given to the House and to the country before we can make a general assessment of the problem.
It is generally accepted that what we are seeing in Scotland, as well as in the North-East and in the North-West of England and in South Wales, is an enormous and exciting amount of industrial change and industrial diversification, with changing social patterns. New industry is coming in which in the main employs women rather than men. We see this in Glenrothes, Kirkaldy and Dumfermline and in other parts of Scotland. I do not know how we can solve this problem, short of directing male-employing industries there. We will need to be more selective to make sure that where there are male-employing industries they may be given financial incentives to go to such areas as I have mentioned. We might also sharpen the instruments of regional planning.
We have only to keep our eyes open to see what is happening in Scotland. Hon. Members opposite are less than fair to themselves and to the Scottish people in consistently painting a picture of gloom, doom and a miserable future. Between 1965 and 1969 under the present Govern- 462 ment 50 million sq. ft. of new factory space was approved in Scotland. When completed there will be 106,000 new jobs available, of which more than 63,000 will be for men. In Fife there will be 19,400 new jobs, of which 10,800 will be for men. The figure during the last five years of Tory Government was 27 million sq. ft. of new factory space approved to provide 75,000 new jobs. There has been a marked improvement during our period of office as compared with the previous five years.
The hon. Member for Pollok appeared to deplore the use of the word "infrastructure", saying that it was a word first used in the Toothill Report. We all know what is meant by "infrastructure"—housing, hospitals, roads, education and the like. On any of those subjects the record of the Labour Government is infinitely superior to that of the Conservative Government. The hon. Member can mention housing, hospital building, school building, university provision, anything he likes, and I will give him the figures.
§ Mr. Wright
The point I was making about infrastructure was that it was a word that arose out of the Toothill Committee's Report, a committee appointed by the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) under the Conservative Government. I do not question the hon. Gentleman's accuracy. Everything he has said is derivative from Conservative policies.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Then if he says that we are continuing Tory policies I do not know what this Motion of censure is all about. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that all this alleged unemployment has resulted from a continuation of Tory policies which they are now opposing, it makes nonsense of the Motion.
In the last five years we have completed an average of over 40,000 new houses every year. Was that a continuation of Tory Party policy? They did not achieve anything like that figure in any one of their 13 years. Furthermore, we have given considerably increased subsidies. The Tory Party is on record as saying that one of the first things it will do is to cut housing subsidies and local authority house-building. The effects of such a policy will be increasing immobility of labour and the putting up 463 of rents, both of which will be deleterious to industrial development in Scotland.
I have mentioned public expenditure on housing for 1963–64 when the Tories spent£120 million in Scotland. In 1969–70, under the present Government, the figure went up to£226 million. The subsidies in 1963–64 amounted to£17.7 million. In 1968–69 they rose to£29.2 million. I could go on quoting similar figures in regard to education, school building, public investment in health and welfare services and in the clearance of derelict land.
The hon. Member for Pollok spoke about the quality of life. He should see some parts of Fife in the mining areas where the greedy vultures of private coal owners dug their profits out of the bowels of the earth and left their vomit on top and the other depredation of industry. We had pit bings coming right down to the roads and houses where the miners used to live in Fife. This Government decided these must be cleared and have paid 85 per cent. of the cost of clearance. Where pit bings used to come right down to the roadside, there is now lovely green hillside. The Duke of Edinburgh is coming next month—I do not know whether I will be there—to have a look—
§ Mr. Hamilton
He is coming to look at a£1 million project which Fife County Council is undertaking to get rid of the industrial filth and squalor left by private enterprise. It is being cleared by public money. That will have an undoubted effect in improving the quality of the lives of people who live there and will be an added incentive to incoming industry. This is what we mean by improving the quality and standard of people's lives.
Is this a continuation of Tory policies? On the contrary. In 1960–64 the last four years of Tory rule, some£253,000 was spent on clearing derelict land in the whole of Scotland. Between 1964 and 1969 we have spent£1,856,000 and we expect to spend£4½ million in the next five years.
To be lectured by the Conservative Party on industrial training is more than most of us can bear. They closed industrial training centres. One matter that 464 is holding up industrial development in certain parts of Scotland is shortage of skilled labour. The hon. Member spoke about Rosyth dockyard, but even the defence establishments are crying out for skilled manpower. Industries in Glenrothes New Town are crying out for skilled manpower.
In 1963–64, the last full year of Tory Government, they spent on industrial training in Scotland£300,000. We are spending in 1969–70, £1,300,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not enough."] As an hon. Member says, that is not enough, but for these training establishments we have to get people to do the training. There is a bottleneck here, but we are providing 1,360 places, so we get some indication of the scale of the increase and of the dereliction of duty of the Tory Party when it was in power.
Emigration figures have shown a substantial decrease over the last few years. Peaked in 1965 at 47,000 the latest figures show that that has been very nearly halved and is now 25,000. A colleague told me today that he had spoken to a constituent who had been thinking of emigrating, but who said he now had decided to stay in Scotland. When asked why he said, "Because I can see the opportunities in housing, for the education of my children and for employment increasing day by day". Everyone knows that that is true in Scotland. That is why we have had the recent results in the local elections and why we shall get the right results in the General Election whether we go in June or October.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Clegg (North Fylde)
When this debate started, Mr. Speaker, your predecessor in the Chair asked for short speeches. We did not get a short speech from the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton). We had an exceedingly bitter speech from him. I do not propose to follow him into Scotland, but I hope that one of my hon. Friends will be able to catch your eye to deal with what he said.
This debate is about unemployment, which has doubled during the lifetime of this Parliament. Since I came to the House in April, 1966, unemployment in the North West of England has doubled, with an increase of 44,000. The attitude adopted by the Minister at the opening of 465 the debate was that the Government have done a great deal in regional policy and have spent a great deal of money. We cannot deny that the Government have spent a great deal in the regions, but the underlying self-satisfaction which the Government appear to have I find very worrying. They should be looking at that expenditure and realising that although it has been spent in the regions and they have adopted that policy, it has not worked, for unemployment has doubled.
All we had from the Minister was a passing reference to what is to happen in future. There is to be no change of policy. He went over this swiftly. just as the Chancellor did in his Budget Statement, by suggesting that after a switch of resources following devaluation we could have a further switch of resources. Then there would be a faster rate of growth, but there was not much confidence in the way in which the country was to be enabled to get a faster rate of growth. We have to face the fact that, in spite of all the Government have done in the regions or elsewhere, their overall policy for employment has failed.
We should perhaps look at some of the reasons why it has failed and challenge the concept put forward by the Government. I start by looking at regional policies. In my constituency, Thornton Cleveleys and Fleetwood, together with Blackpool, have sent a memorandum to the Minister asking that their area should be made an intermediate area. No doubt the Minister will give that consideration. I come from an area which does not have any assistance from the Government.
Is the money which has been poured into other areas being used in a cost-effective way? I have some doubts about this. The strategy of help for development areas concerns very wide areas in the whole of Scotland and the North-East. This means that areas which are quite viable have an unexpected bonus. In my county, Fords, Vauxhall and Lever Brothers, of Port Sunlight, were already established before development area provision was made. Money which puts a great burden on the taxpayer, and which could be better spent on other things, has been diverted to the shareholders of Fords, Vauxhall and Lever Brothers. Is it producing more jobs? I think not.
466 Some hon. Members opposite have questioned the regional employment premium on this basis. When it goes to an employer in manufacturing industry in a development area, often it has a counter-productive effect by allowing him to buy new machinery which, in turn, reduces the number of jobs available. We should be looking at these things rather than hon. Members opposite saying that they have spent a lot of money from which they are not getting results but they will continue spending a lot of money. It was amazing that the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning did not mention selective employment tax. How, in a debate on unemployment, could a Minister fail to mention that?
Part of the strategy of S.E.T. was to create unemployment in service industries and to drive people into manufacturing industry, but this has just not happened. I think that it was a wrong strategy and that the position of the Government today is partly due to this. We should note experience in America. It has a highly-industrialised economy, with computers doing jobs which hundreds of people did formerly. As a result, a huge factory employs very few people.
The question which has to be answered by any Government in those circumstances is: where do the people from those factories go when they are redundant? In part, the answer in America is that they are mopped up by the service industries. Those industries employ people rather than machines. To single out the service industries, which employ many people, and to punish them, seems quite wrong. It is one of the reasons why the Government are having to face this debate today.
When I came into this House I sought, on every possible occasion, to raise the problem of unemployment. I cannot today give any comparison with the figures that were relevant to my constituency, Fleetwood and Thornton Cleveleys in 1966, because in 1968, after an inquiry by the late unlamented Department of Economic Affairs, a decision was taken to change the area basis, which automatically violently cut the percentage of unemployment overnight without having obtained an extra job for anyone.
467 In the travel to work area, which includes Blackpool. Thornton Cleveleys, Fleetwood and other parts of the Fylde coast, there is an unemployment rate of 4.6 per cent. This is more for Fleetwood than would seem on those figures. In Fleetwood, there are now 581 men unemployed and only 50 vacancies—a ratio of about 12 to 1. This means that in Fleetwood there are 581 men chasing 50 jobs. In Thornton Cleveleys, there are 438 unemployed men chasing 10 jobs.
That is the kind of problem facing my constituency, and on which I have been trying to get action since I came into the House.
When the intermediate areas were settled, it was decided that the Fylde should not form part of them. An application has now gone to the Minister to reconsider that decision. The three councils to which I have referred also make other suggestions. I have a feeling that the Minister will find it hard to accept the application, and I will give the reason. The Government cannot keep spreading these areas. It just is not possible. Otherwise, they will cover the whole of England with them. Therefore, I suggest that the Minister may have some difficulty.
Another suggestion which the three authorities have made, which I think the Minister could certainly take to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, concerns the impact of S.E.T., which is particularly hard on the Fylde coast, because it is a service industry area. It has some industry, but most people in the area are engaged in construction and tourism which have been hard hit.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) mentioned that S.E.T. is supposed to be infinitely variable. Could it not be varied for the Fylde coast to put it on an equally competitive basis with other areas which compete in the same trade? The Lake District—where unemployment is much lower than in my constituency—and Scarborough get relief from S.E.T. in the tourist industry. We do not. I ask the Minister to consider whether something could be done on those lines.
I am driven to the conclusion that the Minister will not be able to grant us the 468 concessions for which we are asking. We need a Government which will operate the economy in a completely different way. We are asked time and time again by hon. Members opposite, the Government having made a mess of unemployment, how the Tories will get out of it. This is the pit that they have been digging for themselves, and this is what they have been saying all day.
Our approach is different. The whole economy will be expanding at a much faster rate because people will be encouraged. We will do what we did in the past. We will lower unemployment and raise the living standards of the people. The greatest hope for my constituency is not that it should become an intermediate area under the Government or even that it should have S.E.T. relaxed, but that we should get a Conservative Government which will get an expanding economy going again.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
The hon. Member for North Fylde, (Mr. Clegg) was telling us, or threatening us, that we should go back to the Tory approach to unemployment. I remind him that under that kind of dispensation we had an extremely high level of unemployment. Most of the unemployed were feverishly looking round—indeed, I was one of them at one period—for any kind of possible employment to get a few stamps back on their cards so that they could get back in the unemployment queue. That was the kind of outlook in the unemployment days we knew under a Conservative Government.
We must not minimise the problems of any unemployed man or woman. It is not now the case that there are 600,000 people doing just what I said was the position of the unemployed in days gone by. It is a difficult problem, but the basis of unemployment now is entirely different. In those days, we used to argue for work or maintenance. We have gone a good distance along the road to providing the maintenance where there is not, as yet, full employment.
Although 600,000 unemployed are not jostling for poor types of jobs to get stamps on their cards, I do not believe that a lost of scrounging is going on. But when we analyse the full position, there is still a serious job shortage in the 469 development areas—my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) told us how that was being remedied—and there is a more rapid job changing cycle in other parts of the country. Above average job changing is inevitable in a period of great industrial change such as we are now witnessing. Inded, if there were not this increased cycle of job changing in the first nation into the Industrial Revolution of a century ago, we would be in grave economic difficulties in future.
We know from past experience that, no matter how or what day we choose for the collection of figures of unemployed, there has always been a minimum of 200,000 to 250,000 people changing their jobs. It may be that the future will show that that figure, which I pointed out represents, or did in the past, utterly full employment, has now increased. It may be that it will remain at a higher figure so long as the velocity of job changing, to which I have referred, needs to go on.
There are at least two new features whose effect on that figure we have yet to quantify. First, the effect of redundancy payments and the relatively higher payments from unemployment incomes as a percentage of that obtainable from those in low income industries. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West that there is need for a close analysis of these matters. There has a not yet been an attempt to produce detailed figures upon which to base a judgment of those matters.
We have to consider the contraction of job opportunities of an unskilled nature for male workers, and also the demand for non-existent skilled operatives in many parts of the country and in many trades. The building industry is contracting, yet this is one of the most heavily affected by the present levels of unemployment. I do not want to exaggerate, but there are thousands of small firms which cannot possibly tender for huge road programmes, or for the building of massive housing estates. One of the needs of the Industry is a new grouping, on a bigger scale, of many of the firms in it.
A peculiarity of the present level of employment is the small number of women who are now unemployed compared with the high level of 1963. In 470 those days there was a much higher ratio of unemployment among women, and in this connection we have to look closely at what will be the effect of equal pay. Will it result in more women being displaced by men as the advantage to employers of cheap labour disappears? Will we reach the stage at which female labour is replaced by the application of automated machines which will not need operatives, but which will result in an even greater demand for skilled personnel to supervise the robots?
Looking back at the debates in the House of some years ago, I realise that in those days there was great anxiety about the effects of automation and the coming of heavy technological unemployment. No one had the answer to the problem, but those effects have not yet been felt. If we contrast what has happened in this country with what has happened in the United States during the intervening period we see that unemployment there reached massive proportions, whereas in this country we have not faced anything like the problems about which many of us were apprehensive. It may be that what we feared has not happened because we still have a low capital investment economy. It may be that we are not moving as rapidly as we ought to be doing towards the modernisation of our industries.
I am sure that one of the beneficial things which we have to keep down levels of unemployment during difficult periods is the large expenditure in the development areas. I understand that if the Tory Party were returned to power it would cut this expenditure. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to begin to assess where they stand on this matter. When I used to go round the Northern Region as a whole I used to visit as many councils as I could. Many of them were Tory-controlled, but I never visited one which did not ask for more money. I should have wondered what was the matter if they had not done so.
Some months ago I heard the Leader of the Opposition talking about the shibboleth of the high expenditure rate in development areas. I wonder what the leaders of the Tory-controlled local authorities think about this. Can they really put forward policies in line with those advanced by the Leader of the 471 Opposition when, for instance, in the Northern Region I was always being told that we were skinflints, and that there ought to be greater expenditure in that area. These are important problems for the future, and I know that it is to the future that hon. Gentlemen opposite want to look, and not the past. I understand the reasons for that.
I deal, next, with the register of unemployment. It is common ground that for many years the weighting of the register of unemployment figures for seasonal purposes has been utterly unreal. The result is that we have less than the expected levels of unemployment during the winter months, and far more than the expected levels during the summer months. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend will tell us that the Government are undertaking a comprehensive review of the weighting system of the unemployment register, but I hope that they will do so, because it is not registering in the way that the weighting system was supposed to do.
How many people appearing on the live unemployment register are not unemployed in the sense in which we understand the term, and are never likely to seek work again? There must be thousands of such people, especially in development areas and former coal-producing districts where ex-miners over 55 are drawing the benefits of the arrangement made for people in that category. I should have thought that in many areas these people represent a high percentage of those who are listed as unemployed. Many of these ex-miners have done a Herculean job and have reached the stage at which, with all the good will in the world, they cannot be retrained for other work. I doubt whether, by the very nature of things, they could ever work again. The nation owes them a good living for the rest of their lives. Why should such people appear on the live register?
If we take a figure of 600,000 for unemployment, make allowance for the 250,000 people who are changing their jobs on the day that the figures are taken, and then add the number on the live register who are never likely to work again, I think that we begin to get the problem into far better perspective than is the case now.
472 My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West talked about training. The Government's record in providing G.T.C.s is excellent. Their record in assisting job training is perhaps even more important, with the provision of £10 per week to employers who do the training. This is a vital contribution towards solving the problem. I should like to know the level of vacant places in the G.T.C.s, first, in the development areas and, second, in other areas. To me the problem of the levels of unemployment is incapable of solution until we begin to look at the problem of retraining.
I am in danger of being accused of tedious repetition, because I seem to say this every time I speak—and I propose to go on saying it: we shall find no answer to the problem of unemployment unless we take extremely seriously the question of retraining. I have had the good fortune to see the results of it. After a period of retraining miners in Durham, Northumberland and Cumberland have readily adapted themselves to new kinds of work and are doing a first-class job in their new employment—employment that a year before they would not have dreamed they could venture into. The nation cannot afford to have its personnel unemployed for the want of training.
§ Mr. Keith Stainton (Sudbury and Woodbridge)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he ought to insert in his present comments something about industrial rehabilitation centres for the disabled?
§ Mr. Lee
I have been lucky in that, in the old days in the Ministry of Labour, I had the opportunity to study the work being done by Remploy, and to see what an important contribution is being made by the disabled. I agree with the hon. Member. People who, years ago, would have had to go on to the industrial scrap-heap are now able, because of the work of Remploy and similar organisations, to do a new job of work, to attain a new dignity, and to make a useful contribution to our economy.
I want to enlarge upon the point I made about retraining. The number of unskilled jobs available will continue to decline. Further, the number of skilled people required will continue to rise. Even in development areas there is a 473 terrible shortage of skilled men in some trades. Once the economy can be allowed to run free that shortage will show itself in the form of ever-increasing numbers of vacancies for a skilled labour force that does not exist.
We must also face the problems caused by the effects of equal pay. I hope that the House will give a lead here. How dare people, nowadays, look upon one-third of our labour force—the more than 8 million employed women—as being synonymous with unskilled labour? It is sheer male conceit even to harbour the thought. I do not want to become too nostalgic, but during the war thousands of women worked in the engineering industry, doing skilled work, making a first-class job of it, and earning tradesman's rate. Some of us insisted that they got the proper rate, and they did. The irony about equal pay now is that far fewer women are getting it for doing skilled work than was the case a quarter of a century ago. We must not kid ourselves that we are doing very well at the moment.
If I am right in arguing that in the future there will be fewer unskilled jobs available, by encouraging 8 million or more women to stay in industry we shall be creating a further unemployment problem unless we do the sensible thing and train the women to fill the ever-increasing number of skilled jobs that will become available. I do not want to go over the debates that we have had on equal pay, but one of the great fears that was expressed in them was that the cost of equal pay will be very high.
For every woman who can be trained to fill a skilled vacancy, there is no cost; it is a positive asset, but if we discuss unemployment only in terms of the present figures, without considering what we are going to do about the retraining programme, and the fact that we shall need many more skilled people, we shall not be able to grapple with the true implications of the present problem.
I have suggested a few ways in which to get a better breakdown of the figures that hon. Members on both sides of the House would like. I could not possibly tell how many of those 600,000 people will never again have to seek employment. I do not know what the figure is below which it will be impossible to get 474 because of job changes, but my suspicion is that it is at least one-half of the present unemployment figure. I therefore hope that the Minister will at least tell us that the Government are engaged in trying to analyse these figures, to study them more closely, and to give the House the benefit of their deliberations.
Hon. Members opposite have suggested, for political purposes, that great wage increases are now being conceded. That comes oddly from them. I pose a question to the hon. Member who is to reply from the Opposition Front Bench. Hon. Members opposite have condemned us for having an incomes policy. Are they now condemning us for having none? That is what it is all about. To me, the party opposite has been culpable in many ways in respect of its arguments about wages. It is responsible for some of the price increases.
I wrote a letter toThe Timesthe other day suggesting that the Leader of the Opposition is very culpable in this respect, because every time the Government brought an Order before the House in connection with their incomes policy, and to prevent an increase, the Opposition not only prayed against it but voted against it. We hear cries of horror about a 20 per cent. increase. I challenge anybody to deny that if the Government had brought in Orders against these increases today the Opposition would have prayed and voted against them. Their culpability for the increase in prices is established.
In any debate on unemployment it is important to analyse the new unemployment problem. It is not a question of the old desperation that some of us knew years ago, when sons and daughters were driven out of their family homes because their parents could not otherwise obtain unemployment pay. It is not that sort of problem. It is a highly technical problem, the solution to which can be arrived at only by keeping a better type of register, which will enable us to analyse more closely the causes of unemployment.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)
It is difficult to fault the Motion moved by the Conservative Party on its technicalities, but I cannot say that the speech that we heard from the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr)—which 475 I can only dignify by the description "electioneering claptrap"—will help to solve the unemployment problem. Not one idea expressed by the right hon. Gentleman gave me any confidence that the Conservatives will reduce the unemployment problem in my constituency. I suppose that such a speech is inevitable in an election year, but it can have unfortunate effects.
A considerable part of the present unemployment level, both in the whole country and in the development areas, is the result of some of the Government's policies. I have no doubt that S.E.T. has created unemployment in areas such as the South-West. We told them that it would cause wastage when they brought in this Act, that a development area like the South-West had a high incidence of people in service industries and a very low incidence of people in manufacturing, so it would inevitably cause unemployment over the whole area.
What I was surprised about was the certainty of the right hon. Member for Mitcham of what the unemployment figures meant. There is very little certainty among most of the other pundits who write in our journals, or the independent and unbiased economists who study the figures. The sort of thing that we have been seeing in recent days isThe Timesleader of 27th April, entitled, "The Unemployment Riddle". I could not have described it better. In the same week, there was an article inThe Guardianheaded, "New clues on unemployment", in which Anthony Harris said:The big problem has been this: for some two years now it has been clenr that the total unemployment figure does not ' mean ' the same as it used to mean.Those of us who have to live with high unemployment in our constituencies know this.
I do not usually quote the Confederation of British Industry in support, but I should have thought that the Conservative Party, of all organisations, might have taken note of what certain leaders of the C.B.I. have been saying. There was an interesting quotation by Eric Wigham, the industrial correspondent ofThe Times,about a conversation which he had had 476 with Mr. Douglas Taylor, a deputy director-general of the C.B.I., who said:There seems to be a sort of conspiracy among politicians to make the unemployment situation seem worse than it is.Some of the politicians in this debate have done just that.
Again, Mr. Norman, the President of the C.B.I., was reported in an interview with the Financial Timesin June last year as saying:We have been obsessed for too long in this country by the system of counting heads in labour statistics, and this is particularly damaging in terms of the figures for the unemployed.What is the real labour reserve? This is really what we need to know if we are to solve the problem. The C.B.I. seems to think that it is probably about 200,000, when the unemployment level is between 500,000 and 600,000.
It is very difficult to be precise about figures of this sort, but I asked the old Ministry of Labour, in 1967, to carry out a survey in a small town in my constituency, in an employment area — Camelford. At that time, Camelford had an unemployment rate, according to the register, of about 6 per cent. Admittedly, only 122 people were involved, but I had been talking to one or two industries which wanted to come into the town and which were a little concerned, as was the development committee of Camelford, a sub-committee of the council, which had done great work in getting new industry in, about how much labour we could offer. We had these figures of 6 per cent. and 122 people, but how many people actually wanted work, particularly in manufacturing?
I therefore asked the then Minister of Labour, the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter), to carry out an investigation into this. Although it is a very small area, it was a very interesting study. The right hon. Gentleman wrote to me:The results were generally encouraging. In Camelford out of a total of 102 males and 40 females unemployed at the time "—this was done a little later—about a third of the males and rather more of the females were considered suitable for immediate employment in manufacturing industry. Similar proportions of males and females. although unlikely to be acceptable for manufacturing employment, were thought suitable for other forms of work.477 This obviously meant the service industries, hotels and summer employment.
But this leaves us with a third who were, to all intents and purposes, virtually unemployable. This is a hateful term and one which none of us likes to use, but, nevertheless, it has to be faced. I see no reason to suppose, knowing Camelford as I do, that the proportion of the registered unemployed who are virtually unemployable, or who were then, is higher or different in any way than the proportion in the rest of the country.
Taking the underlying level of unemployment, about a third, for one reason or another—health is one, and age is particularly important, as is background, which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned when he talked of some of the closed-down mining areas—are not really in the market for any kind of employment, let alone manufacturing.
TheMinistry of Labour Gazette,in April, 1966, produced some very interesting figures on unemployed men relating to October, 1964. They divided them into three categories. Category A was, "Should get work without difficulty", and the proportion was 22.4 per cent. Category B included various things. It was headed:Will find difficulty in getting work on personal grounds because ofand went on to list physical or mental condition, prison record, lack of English, all the things that make it difficult. This proportion was 60.4 per cent. That is a very high figure. Category C was:Will find difficulty in getting work because of lack of local opportunities or present qualifications, experience or skill not acceptable to employers.That was 17 per cent.
So, between a fifth and a quarter should get work without difficulty, nearly a fifth will find difficulty in getting work because of lack of local opportunities, and the rest, 60 per cent., will find it difficult to get work because they are what they are. This may not apply over the whole country—these figures were for the whole country—and it may not apply all the time at every level of unemployment. I do not expect that it does, but it is an important factor.
Of course, something has changed in the unemployment situation. Everyone except a biassed political animal in elec- 478 tion year recognises this. Indeed, some hon. Gentlemen on the back benches of the Tory Party recognise it. It is only on the Front Bench that it cannot be. It is obvious that something must have changed. In 1963, the Government were spending approximately £210 per head on the unemployed. By 1968, the figure had risen to £450. Even if one takes into account cost-of-living increases, it is inevitable that this would have affected the employment situation and the structure of the unemployment register.
There has been much more mobility, much more aptitude to change jobs and the problem of age has probably become more important. It is getting more and more difficult to find work over the age of 40. Any analysis of the regional employment factors from the Department'sGazette—I have done it this week with the February Gazette—shows that the age of 40 is becoming a watershed in employment.
§ Mr. Simon Mahon
I agree with what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Is he aware that there have been suggestions on the Merseyside dock front that the age of 30 should be the limit for recruitment?
§ Mr. Pardoe
That is a hateful suggestion. We shall certainly have to revise the National Superannuation and Social Insurance Bill if that becomes the rule.
I thought, at one stage in my political career, that it was the Labour Party who had to be weaned from the arguments of the 1930s, but I was amazed to find today that it is the Tory Party which is raising the old phantom of the dole queues, as though we were all back to Jarrow. Things are very different today.
No hon. Member faced with the experience of this country, is likely to be complacent about unemployment figures, but there are grave dangers in over-emphasising the social disaster of unemployment today, because one of the key factors in industrial unrest, in increasing productivity and creating new aptitudes to the manning of machinery, is security of employment.
If we keep raising this hoary old phantom of unemployment we will drive the unions back to the wall and have overmanning and all the other nonsense of the past. The time has come for us 479 to be more sophisticated about this whole issue than has been manifest in the speeches made today.
The overall level of unemployment today is undoubtedly too high. No doubt it would have been substantially lower had the Government done some of the things they should have done, such as devaluing early, as a result of the mess they were left in 1964. No political party in the House could have done that then, because devaluation was not being advocated in 1964. However, some of us were far-sighted and realised even then that the value which we attached to the £ was not shared by foreigners.
I come to what is happening in the development areas, with particular reference to my part of Cornwall, which is part of the South-West Development Area. Let us consider what is going on and what needs to be done. The Hunt Report on the grey areas made it clear that although the development areas contained 21 per cent. of employees, they nevertheless made up one-third of the unemployed. That was in 1968.
In January, 1970, according to the Department'sGazette,262,000 people were wholly unemployed in the development areas of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, and 649,000 in the United Kingdom as a whole, which meant that 40 per cent. of the unemployed were at that time in the development areas. The Secretary of State showed that the figure had fallen to about 34 per cent. by April. However, between June, 1964, and June, 1969, while the number unemployed increased in the United Kingdom as a whole by 82.6 per cent., the number in the development areas increased by 17.9 per cent.
The question whether we are getting value for money has been raised. In 1964–65 and 1968–69, we spent £779 million on development area incentives, including the whole ragbag of R.E.P., S.E.T. rebates to manufacturing industry, and so on. The average commitment per job created was about £629. I do not regard that as a lot of money. If I could create a new job in a development area—an area with a rate of unemployment of between 5 and 7 per cent.—for £629, I would regard it as money well spent on a good social cause.
480 It is being asked, however, if this money is being wasted or is having sufficient effect. I answer it from my experience of the South-West Development Area, which consists of virtually the whole of Cornwall and most of South Devon. The total number of employees in 1968 in this area was 135,000, or 2.8 per cent. of the population of the development areas. In other words, it is by far the smallest of the development areas.
In each of the years 1967–68 and 1968–69 the average unemployment figure was 4.8 per cent., undoubtedly higher than the other development areas. It was much the same as for the Northern Region in 1969, but in previous years it was higher than even that region.
Moreover, my part of the country has a very high seasonal variation, which sets it apart from the other development areas. For example, in January, 1969, the South-West Development Area had an unemployment rate of 6 per cent. while in June the rate was 3.6 per cent. In other words, in January of that year there were 8,106 people out of work, while in June the figure had dropped to 4,851.
This is a much greater variation than occurs in other development areas. For example, between January and June of 1969 the variation in Merseyside was from 3.4 per cent. to 3.3 per cent.; in the Northern Region, 5.2 per cent. to 4.3 per cent.; Scottish Region 4.4 per cent. to 3.6 per cent.; and in the Welsh Region it went from 4.8 per cent. to 4 per cent.
There are other differences which set the South-West Development Area apart from other development areas; for example, we have a very low percentage of people in manufacturing employment—33 per cent. compared with 51 per cent. elsewhere. In agriculture, forestry and fishing we have 7 per cent. compared with 2 per cent. in those occupations elsewhere. In the service industries we have 60 per cent. compared with 47 per cent. in other development areas. These figures are relevant to the nature of our unemployment problem.
I have attempted to give a brief profile of events in the South-West Development Area. I have shown that we have a worse unemployment problem, in statistical terms, than other development areas and I wonder whether this is a social disaster or primarily a waste of human resources. 481 While I do not want to minimise the social effects of these unemployment figures, I must comment on them as a result of my personal observations.
I used to think that unemployment was the major problem in my constituency. I no longer hold that view. Low wages are a much more important problem. I am in many ways more concerned about the people who are in employment on low wages than about the unemployed, because in some cases the former are living at substantially lower standards. This leads to the problem of bad housing, because it is frequently not a question of councils not being able to build houses for the workers but of the workers not being able to afford the economic rents—I have taken account of subsidies, and so on—which are charged.
When I compare a town like Launceston, which, in April, had an unemployment rate of 2.6 per cent.—lower than the national average because it has done a fantastic job to solve its unemployment problem—with Newquay, which had an unemployment rate of 7.9 per cent., I ask myself whether the social consequence of the unemployment rate in Newquay is three times what it is in Launceston, and I am bound to reply that it is not. This must be taken into account in assessing this problem.
A great deal has been done in my constituency of North Cornwall, which is only one part of the development area. During the last four years we have established 26 new factories, totalling 467,000 square feet of space which will provide 1,060 additional jobs of which 610 will be for men, and this in an area with an electorate of only 44,000 people.
These four years we have built twice as many new factories in North Cornwall as were built throughout the previous decade. The process has been gathering pace, because in 1969 I.D.C.s were granted for seven new factories, giving 249,000 square feet of space and providing 390 new jobs.
Just across the border, in the constituency of Bodmin great progress has been made. I am delighted to note that my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) has returned from another of his trips to America, this time with a splendid contract for a large factory to be sited at Liskeard, to provide 800 482 new jobs. It will be the largest plastics container factory in the country. This will be of tremendous help to employment in that part of the development area.
I emphasise that the South-West Development Area has not been given as much money as other development areas and that we still have a rate of unemployment which is substantially higher than theirs. Back in 1968 I took up with the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, the hon. Lady the Member for Exeter (Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody), the question of the amount of money allocated to the various development areas per head of insured employees.
It turned out that under the Industrial Development Act between 1966 and 1968 the South-West had £13.3 per head, whereas the total for the English development areas was three times as much, at £39.4 per head. In correspondence with the Parliamentary Secretary I said then that more needed to be done for the South-West by comparison with the other areas. Explanations were given about the variance in the figures, but I found them somewhat unsatisfactory, and subsequent events have proved that to be true.
In answer to a Parliamentary Question at the end of last year I was given some figures which showed the total amount of money spent per 1,000 insured employees in Government assistance to industry—so it includes everything—in the years 1964–65 and 1968–69. In the South-West, we got £96,000; Merseyside got £192,000; the Welsh area got £173,000; the Northern area got £176,000; and Scotland got £136,000. It will be seen that in money actually spent on our problem per 1,000 employees in the area we were substantially below the other development areas.
Analysing the figures of Local Employment Act grants and investment grants, we find the same situation. In the South-West, under the Local Employment Act, we got £5,000 per 1,000 population between 1964 and 1969, and all the others got £9,000. In investment grants for the period 1967–69 we got £12,000 per 1,000 population, while the others got £28,500. It costs rather less to create a job in the South-West Development Area than in the others, because we do not have—and 483 that is why we get less money, or that is the excuse given—many capital-intensive industries. In the period April, 1966, to April, 1969, the South-West only got £440 per new job created, whereas it cost £629 to create a new job in the other development areas.
I emphasise, therefore, that less has been done for the South-West. Our unemployment figure is still higher than that for the other development areas, and it is totally unacceptable. But having listened to the right hon. Member for Mitcham, I must confess that I agree with the desperate uncertainty and the fears expressed to me by councils in my constituency, all of which are independent, about the likelihood of future development policies. One of the best things that the Tory spokesman could do tonight on his party's behalf would be to clear up these uncertainties, just in case the Conservatives should become the next Government. One of the reasons for councils in the South-West holding back from acquiring new industrial sites is their fear that they will not be able to get rid of them because the grants will not be available if the Conservatives are returned to power. I have already had that point put to me in the last few weeks by two councils.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) came to Cornwall the other day and talked of R.E.P. as fairy gold. One may have reservations as to whether R.E.P. is the best way to develop the South-West, but to talk as the right hon. Gentleman talked leads to much uncertainty amongst the people there. We greatly need attention to be given to our infrastructure. We need more rural transport, much better housing subsidies—and subsidies that are related to the income levels of the area. We need S.E.T. to be changed into a regionally varied payroll tax applying to all industries, and not just to some. We need help for the towns which are getting sites.
Most of all, we need the certainty which the Conservatives can give us only if they make a clear policy statement tonight; and I personally think that somewhat doubtful, if the ghastly apparition of another Conservative Government should ever face us in the South-West—and heaven forbid that it should. But 484 we want a clear statement that if that should happen, the Tories will at least not remove the carpet of development area policies from under our feet. I have never been more confident than I am now that we have begun to lick the problem in the South-West. I believe that we are on the threshold of a new era of prosperity which has been unknown since the closing of the Cornish tin mines, and in view of the Government's announcement last night we may even start to open those mines again.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)
The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) has just said that he has a gleam of hope that the Conservative Party might yet do something about unemployment, but I have no hope of that at all. I prefer to put my trust in my right hon. and hon. Friends.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman's support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) about getting a more realistic meaning into the unemployment figures. That is essential from the numerical point of view, and also to enable us to analyse those very large figures and do our very best for every individually unemployed person. We do not know enough about unemployment, and to regard unemployed people as mere ciphers or units of economic possibility is nonsense.
The hon. Gentleman said that some of the employed people in his constituency were getting less in wages than the unemployed were receiving in benefit. There is something very wrong in a society in which unemployed people are on almost the same level of income as wage earners. I suggest that he gives closer attention to that angle, because either the people who are trying to survive on unemployment pay are getting too much, which is unlikely, or the employed are on almost sweated labour. The hon. Gentleman's constituents need to take the sort of action we had to take many years ago, when exactly the same situation pertained in the great industrial areas.
Only a super-optimist could say, as did the hon. Gentleman, that he believed that we were beginning to beat the unemployment problem, but I fervently believe, and I have seen unemployment since 1929, that we are beginning to get 485 control of it. We must not minimise—and I hope that none of the hon. Gentleman's remarks or the remarks of anyone else will minimise—what unemployment means here and elsewhere. I have seen poverty and unemployment in India, and I remember thinking how dreadful it all was that the masses of the people in that far-flung country were denied the possibility of raising standards of living which were essential.
The difficulties of Merseyside should be enumerated. My right hon. Friend came to Merseyside, and applied himself to our problems with the same great detail that he applies to the general problems affecting his Department. On Merseyside, there are 30,000 people on the register and that has been about the number for a very long time, despite all that the Government have done. I hate to think what that figure would have been had it not been for the activity of the Government in getting new industries to Merseyside. They are not shipping industries, but new ones which have grown up in our modern society and they are doing remarkably well, although with different records in industrial relations. For example, Merseyside originally had no motor car plants. Where would it have been now without the great new motor car plants which have moved there? I would add that people seeking jobs and finding them care not which Government have sent these industries to Liverpool. They are grateful to find work.
The responsibilities of those who are in work for those who are out of work are of great measure. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has constantly pointed out, if we would only listen to him, those responsibilities. Before people frivolously stop work, as they did on Liverpool dockside last week, they should think carefully and ask themselves, "What shall I do to the unemployment position? What opportunities for obtaining work shall I deprive my fellow men of by what I am doing?"
May Day is not only International Labour Day. In Liverpool, 10,000 men left their work that day but they were not all in the May Day procession. May Day is not only Labour Day, but the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and some people on Merseyside have more regard for St. Joseph the Worker than they have 486 for Joseph Stalin, or Lenin, or anyone else. I make the plea that, when we look at these stoppages, we get them into complete perspective. It would be a wonderful thing if all workers in the country stopped work on May Day. This country used to be known as "Merrie England" and May Day was Labour Day. May Day should be a statutory holiday, and probably New Year's Day as well. What is wrong is the irregularity of the holidays. This causes stoppages and affects employment.
I feel that we should look at the question of public holidays, particularly in the regions. We often talk about the regions and their traditions and habits. They differ one from the other. When people condemn dockers for coming out on May Day, they should remember the traditions and background of Merseyside.
What are we to do about the English Electric factory on Merseyside? My right hon. Friend, who has visited Bootle Netherton and Liverpool, is intervening to offset the harshness of the decision to run down the factory. The situation really is a bit much. The local authority gave 70 acres of very valuable land in an overcrowded town in days of great social adversity for the building of a wonderful factory with Government assistance. It is the most modern factory in Europe, with the best machinery in Europe. It is the nearest factory to the finest docks in Europe, and the nearest to the Western Approaches. It brought with it one of the finest apprentice schools. It offered jobs in my constituency of the highest calibre.
What happened? Mr. Arnold Weinstock decided that he would close down the factory, in connection with which I had personally arranged for 750 houses to be made available for key workers. These things must be said, for perhaps they will be heard in the right place. The factory is running down and this magnificent machinery is being taken to a non-development area from a development area. I know that the Government have explained what is happening, but I want to know what is to be done. It is my responsibility to my constituents to find out what will happen. I shall say favourable things in a moment, but, nevertheless, the factory is being run down and the machinery is being taken to Trafford Park.
487 I think that Mr. Weinstock and English Electric were in error. We are not only losing the jobs, but also the training facilities for so many of our young men. When I left school, there was no opportunity, not even to become an engineer. I had to go into the humblest of work on Merseyside waterfront. I do not want to see a situation in which blind-alley occupations, which beset so many of us in the old days, are again the only thing available for our young people on Merseyside.
I know that the Government are doing all they can. They have been in constant touch with me. They have been making all sorts of approaches to industrial concerns. Knowing their interest and their heartfelt concern for my constituents, I ask them to get down quickly to the job and see what they can do to bring rewarding industrial opportunity to the area before this factory runs down, which will probably be after this summer.
I turn now to the docks industry on Merseyside, where 750 men need to be recruited. That recruitment would make a substantial reduction in unemployment on Merseyside. But there is a halt in recruitment because of a difference of opinion as to whether the men should all be recruited by the trade unions or partially by the bosses. Because the two parties cannot agree, recruitment is not going on and 750 men who could otherwise get work are being left unemployed. I appeal to both employers and unions on Merseyside to get over their difficulties as quickly as possible so that we can get these 750 men at work and out of the desperate position they are now in.
How silly can people get? One set of people wants to see the recruitment age limited to men up to 45 years old. Port employers stated that the age would be up to 30. I remind the House that Liverpool is a maritime city. Such an age would mean that no one coming out of the Navy would be able to get a job in the docks. I have done my best in representations to the employers, who have had the courtesy to write to me and say that they had reconsidered the age because of the points I had put to them. To limit recruitment by such an age level could be hurtful not only to the individuals concerned, but to the industry itself.
488 One problem is causing Merseyside great anxiety, and I want to be careful about what I say about it. One of the great shipbuilding firms of the country has run into considerable difficulty. It is not only the 8,000 jobs in that firm which are in jeopardy, but the 20,000 in ancillary firms.
No one has done more than the Minister of State, Department of Employment and Productivity, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell), to bring this situation to the attention of the Government. If he were free to add his voice to the debate, he would describe the situation in greater detail and with more eloquence than I can command.
I am interested in the subject of shipping and I have a position in the House connected with the industry. What a pity it is—and I will say no more than this, for I do not want to be condemnatory of Cammell Laird in any way—that Cammell Laird did not draw the attention of the Government to its financial difficulties before the end of March. It must have known what the situation was. If it was the change from the Polaris nuclear system—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member is straying a little from the subject before the House. He must not go into too much detail.
§ Mr. Mahon
I accept your admonition, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but you will appreciate more than most what the position will be if Cammell Laird stops work, as it has said it would, within 10 days. It will add to the unemployment on Merseyside no fewer than between 10,000 and 20,000 people.
I congratulate the Government on the speed with which they have stepped into this difficulty. On Merseyside, we depend on what the Government do. We hope that they will follow the lead given by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead and will meet his demands that this great firm should be prevented from getting further into difficulties. I will say no more than that. It is a great firm which has made its name throughout the world and it has done this country credit by building great ships. Whatever its future management or control, we all agree that it should not be closed down and that 489 the Government should step in to see that it is kept in being.
When hon. Members opposite criticise the Government, do they know of anybody else who would have sent to my constituency the National Giro system? The hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue) knows how important this is. It provided 2,000 to 3,000 jobs in my constituency and was little short of miraculous. Does the hon. Member for Garston remember the disaster when a private firm, the name of which I will not mention—I am too charitable—told 850 girls over the Tannoy system that they were sacked? When I remember that sort of treatment from private industry and compare it with the generosity of my right hon. Friend, I am bounden and beholden to pay tribute to the Government.
In Bootle, we have the Giro and the Inland Revenue. The town never had this kind of employment before. What it has done for the girls and young women of my constituency is almost miraculous. It has given them opportunities which they have never had hitherto.
We have had a £30 million dock, probably the greatest container base in the country. We have had dock access roads and town centres and £200 million made available for the building of new ships. All this has meant a great opportunity for the whole of Merseyside. We are on the road to defeating this old problem of unemployment. I put my faith as always in the Labour Government. I know what efforts my right hon. Friend and the Cabinet are making. I have never been disappointed in anything for which I have asked.
As an hon. Member who holds a green card on the disabled register, may I make a fervent plea for a little more attention to be given to the position of disabled men? They need their dignity as much as anybody and it is a little hard to preserve one's dignity when one is not quite as physically fit as the next man. I will leave the matter there.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Lengthy speeches curtail the number of hon. Members able to participate in the debate. I hope that brevity will be the rule from now on.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
I shall attempt to follow your direction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall be as brief as I can, not least because, as you have said, we have had some lengthy speeches and I know that a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to speak. I shall try to compress what I had originally intended to say into a very few minutes.
I hope that the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon), who enjoys the respect of both sides of the House, will forgive me if I do not comment on his arguments. However, there is one comment which I should like to make about his speech. It was very appropriate that a person of his standing on Merseyside should have suggested that those who go on strike should consider the effects of doing so on their work-fellows, not only on Merseyside, but throughout the whole of the country. It was a very good point to make. We would all join what he said about St. Joseph the Worker. I will leave it at that in an attempt to be brief.
The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) was wholly on the defensive. I understand why. He was wholly on the defensive when he talked of the rundown of traditional industry as being the main reason for the heavy unemployment which the country knows today. This will not convince anyone any longer. It may have done so in 1966, but it will not now.
In 1966, every Labour candidate in the North-East of England, where I come from, knew of traditional industries that were running down—coal and shipbuilding. They knew it long ago. We knew this in the 1959 election and in the 1964 election. If the right hon. Member thinks that this is a reason for unemployment today standing as it does at its present high level, will he kindly examine the election addresses of those of his hon. Friends who fought seats in the North-East of England and largely won them in 1966?
In 1966, there was not one Labour Party election address which did not suggest that in the 17 months from October, 1964, to March, 1966, the Labour Government had been responsible for a substantial reduction in unemployment. The 491 North-East Development Council has stated recently that the only year in which we had enough replacement jobs in major industry was 1964–65, in other words the year in which new industry coming into the area had been brought there by Conservative as against Labour action. As Conservative candidates in the North-East we had to face the constant suggestion in the 1966 campaign, and some of us will never forget it, that in the 17 months of Labour Government they had cured unemployment. It is a hollow cry today. The poster then said:You know now that Labour Government works.They know differently in 1970.
The last time we debated unemployment, was on 3rd February when I was fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye. I suggested that the position in the North-East of England was desperate, but it is worse today. I make no apology for stating the position as it stands. For the purpose of a calculation I have made, I have taken the North-East, as against the Northern Region, as representing the North Riding, the County of Durham and the County of Northumberland. In the North-East at this moment we have 53,696 men unemployed, 7.3 per cent. of the employable population. We have 6,651 women, 2,641 boys, and 1,201 girls, unemployed.
I appreciated the contribution by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) who suggested that the high rate of unemployment among young people was something that we could not accept. I agree. The total unemployment in the North-East of England is 64,189. It is disgraceful and it is higher than it was in the month of March. I see little possibility of it improving until we have a change of central economic policy. Whatever may be said from the benches opposite, either by the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning or anyone else, this is the basic fact which we must grasp. If the Government's central economic policy fails then the development areas suffer most.
I try to meet as many employers as well as employees as possible in my area. The trouble for employers in the past few years has been the restriction of credit. There is no doubt about that. 492 Whether I talk to someone employing 10,000 people or 10 people, this is the complaint. First of all, there has been difficulty in getting credit and secondly there has been its high cost. This has meant a great restriction on employment possibilities. We have shining new factories in the North-East and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there has been a transformation. The change in the infrastructure, as it is called now, is substantial. In County Durham particularly we see lots of wonderful new roads and factories, but in these factories are employers who nag away at those like myself who go to see them about the high cost of credit and its non-availability.
Last weekend I held a meeting, attended by smaller employers, organised by a small employer. The smaller employers put their complaints to me. They told me that grants which were promised took a long time to come. They said that alternative finance was available but that they had delayed obtaining it because of the promise of grants, and those delays were expensive. They had begun to lose faith in the Government's ability to provide sufficient grants. This is after six years of Labour Government. Now the position is that on Tyneside, the heart of a great industrial area, we have 7.6 per cent. unemployment among the employable population. In Sunderland, and I am pleased to see the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) in his place, the unemployment figure for April was 13.2 per cent.
§ Mr. Gordon A. T. Bagier (Sunderland, South)
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am as disturbed about the high rate of unemployment as he is. I am sure that he will agree that the very high rate of 13 per cent. is due to an industrial strike and that the true figure is much lower.
§ Mr. Elliott
I agree with that at once. Although the strike is taken into consideration in the percentage I have quoted. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that if we took out the percentage represented by the strike the unemployment rate for Sunderland would remain very high. The percentage has become progressively higher since Labour came into power. On Tees-side the unemployment figure is 9.4 per cent. and 493 in south-east Northumberland 11.2 per cent.
There is now a new, hated, word in this industrial area and it is "redundancy". It has been rightly said that unemployment is different these days. The unemployed are cushioned against the most severe and immediate effects, but I have talked a good deal to the unemployed lately and it is easy to realise that despite the payments there is a fear of redundancy which throws a horrid grey shadow over many. It is not only those already in the dole queues who fear this shadow. There is a great fear of further redundancy, the fear that the breadwinner may lose his job, his ability to keep up the hire-purchase payments and, much worse, lose his pride and the respect of his children.
Let there be all the talk in the world about better conditions for the unemployed from the other side of the House, but these awful fears and feelings remain. There is the fear of being unwanted, unneeded which is a terrible social problem in itself, and based on distressing statistics. When 10,000 new jobs were created in the last year we needed 24,500 new jobs. This is the straight criticism of the Government's economic failure. The gap here is wide. In 1969 factory building fell by 20 per cent. from the 1968 figure. It was a fall which we could not possibly stand, as a region desperately needing more employment. Even if there are no more pit closures in Durham, there is an enormous leeway to make up, a leeway created particularly in the last two years.
What are we to do? This is the sixth time that I have made this sort of speech since last November, but the North-East needs to have this said. We must think ahead about our skill requirements. I appreciated the contribution made by the right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee). It was a sound point to suggest that unemployment today needs to be approached in a different way, and this is what I have hoped to say in my speech. We must think more about unemployment. We hear too much about how many extra square feet of factory space has been provided. We need to do more than consider the exact numbers of unemployed people listed at each labour exchange, whether men, women, boys or girls. We need to con- 494 sider the situation much more carefully, intelligently and scientifically.
We need to consider the skill requirements of new industry. Over and over again in debates I have said that there should be a full inquiry in the North-East, which is the cradle of regional development, into the exact skill requirements of new industries. I have always been told that the Government are fully aware of the requirements. But that is not so. When I make factory visits in the region, industrialists are inclined to say, "The training places are there, but they are not right for what we require. Not enough notice is taken of what we say".
There must be a great increase in the participation of existent industry in the North-East in training generally and in training requirements particularly. Trade union fears must be permanently allayed in the near future in all development areas. Trade union barriers—and some still remain—must be finally removed.
As the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) rightly said, there is a grave shipbuilding and, in particular, ship-repairing worry in the North-East. Recent problems are urgent and acute. The ship-repairing industry particularly and the shipbuilding industry have been victims of rampant inflation. It is not only a question of wage claims and awards, although we know that wage increases have been all too readily given, sometimes with no relation to increased productivity. The high and rising price of steel has a great deal to do with the present shipbuilding and ship-repairing problems in the North-East. It was, nevertheless, encouraging to read in theFinancial Timestoday the brave words of Sir John Hunter who said that his great consortium would not get into the queue for Government aid and that, despite its problems, would try to continue to overcome them.
The North-East urgently needs easier credit conditions and greater liquidity. So much can be done by existent employers if the iron financial control of the Government is further eased. The easement which has taken place has been much welcomed, but their financial control needs to be eased much more. If it is, the industry which is already in the area can employ more people.
495 Secondly, we need urgently to meet the social problems embodied in redundancy. I shall not enlarge on that matter now. New hope can be given by a wholehearted industrial training policy. Again, I refer to the right hon. Member for Newton. For a time he was responsible for the North-East, and he had experience similar to mine when going from factory to factory. We need to think much more intelligently about our industrial training programme.
Thirdly,we need honesty in our national approach to regional problems. The days of the public relations exercise are over. I have said that before, and I say it again. The days of the public relations exercise in the North-East occurred during the elections of 1964 and 1966. What we in the North-East want from the Labour Party in the next election is the truth. It will be disastrous for the North-East if, for the sake of winning the election, the Government were to place undue stress on the precarious improvement in the balance of payments. What the North-East needs above all else is an election and a Conservative Government. Perhaps we shall have both very shortly.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools)
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) said that people wished to feel wanted and that it is horrible for people to feel that they are not needed. I wonder why that was not said during the many years when the hon. Gentleman's party was in power. My constituency is in the North, and those days ended with 15 per cent. of the employable men in my constituency out of work. In 1963, which was a highly critical year for us, the Leader of the Opposition went to the region and the only successful thing that he did was to play the organ in Durham Cathedral.
The second source of annoyance in the hon. Gentleman's speech was his reference to honesty. For a member of the Conservative Party to talk about honesty is an utter load of tripe. The people in the North know all about it. The right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) should have consulted his right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) before quoting figures on regional unemployment.
496 It is useful to quote the figures given by a right hon. Member opposite. This was the story given by the right hon. Member for Grantham concerning the years between 1951 and 1963. In 1951, in the London and South-Eastern Region, there were 57,432 people out of work. In the last year, more or less, of the Conservative Party's administration, when the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Government, the figure rose to 71,775—an increase of 25 per cent. In 1951, the last year of the Labour Government, in the Eastern and Southern Region there were 21,490 people out of work. In 1963, after many years of Tory administration, the figure had risen to 34,424—an increase of 60.2 per cent. In the South-Western Region in 1951, 14,916 people were unemployed. The figure rose to 26,245—an increase of 76 per cent.
In the Midlands there was a remarkable increase. The 1951 figure of 17,570 jumped to 48,423—an increase of 175 per cent. In the Yorkshire Region, the 1951 figure of 26,487 rose to 35,211—an increase of 32 per cent. In the North-Western Region, it rose from 41,605 to 78,086—an increase of 87 per cent. In the Northern Region, the figure rose from 29,345 to 58,303—an increase of 98.7 per cent. In Scotland the increase was 64 per cent. and in Wales 15 per cent.
Hon. Members opposite cannot refute those figures because they were given by one of their right hon. Friends.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
Although the hon. Gentleman believes he is being honest about his figures, he has followed the example of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) by quoting distorted figures. Why does he not quote figures for 1947 and compare them with 1963?
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's description of the figures as distorted, because they came from his right hon. Friend.
The problem with which we have been dealing ever since is a legacy of the Conservative Party.
§ Mr. Stainton
Would the hon. Gentleman go along with me in an extrapolation, an extension, of the figures? In my constituency in Suffolk, the unemployment 497 rate increased by 84 per cent. between 1,964 and March this year.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
No one in this House should minimise the difficulty of unemployment or suggest that it is an easy matter. I agree with the hon. Member that if he has a problem, it is a serious one and we should all be anxious to put it right. We want, however, to talk about which party is best able to do the job and, unfortunately, the record of the party opposite has indicated to the country that they are not fitted to deal with the problem.
For the record, I want to give some in- formation which is vital to the debate. I pose a simple question to the House. If the policies for my region during the past five years have produced 116,000 new jobs, is it likely that the same policy during the next 10 years will produce the other 210,000 jobs that we need to meet our total employment problem? That is a fair proposition.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) had the temerity to suggest that the industrial development certificate policy was not an issue between the parties. It is an issue, because between 1945 and 1947, under a Labour Government, 48 per cent. of I.D.C.s were directed to the development areas. Under the party opposite, however, that figure was reduced in the 1950s to 18 per cent.
The same thing happened with Government training centres. When we took office in 1964 and we looked at the books, we found that in the year when there was the highest unemployment figure since the war—815,000—under a Tory Government, when there was need for training, they cut down the 10 Government training centres by two. We have increased the number of training centres to 21, and to complete the programme there will be 26. The output of Government training levels in the Northern Region has been lifted from 2,000 to 3,000 trained and new skilled men. That is the rate of progress in the Northern Region.
Whilst the North has been having the benefit of a good programme from the Government, we have to face a fundamental fact. During the past five years 40,000 men in the coalfields have lost their jobs. This number has had to be taken up by new industries. The rate 498 of improvement during the past five years has always been countered by the rate of decline in basic industries. Therefore, if a policy had not been devised by the Labour Government to deal with this problem, what would have been the unemployment situation in the North today?
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott
What the hon. Member is saying is simply not the case. We have just replaced 40 per cent. of the redundant jobs. Under a Conservative Government, we would have had economic growth nationally, the country's economy would have been thriving and we would have gone on apace.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
The economic growth was so exciting that when we took office, we were left with an £800 million deficit. In 1970, we have a surplus of over £500 million, we have more foreign earnings than ever before and we have paid back £1,600 million short-term debt. That is the record.
The Labour Government are providing inducements for industry in the Northern Region to the extent of £105 million, new construction works and the clearance of derelict areas to the extent of £143 million and a road construction programme this year to the extent of £50 million—in total, £300 million of government help to give new life to the area.
When a General Election comes, I challenge hon. Members opposite to announce in the Northern Region that they will dare to relax the I.D.C. policies or dare to suggest that they will reduce the amount of aid. I know very well that private industry is not prepared to come to the Northern Region without some carrots being put into its hands—and I have never yet found private enterprise not putting out its hand to grasp public money. We have been able to induce people who would have gone elsewhere to come to the North.
There is no question that during the general election the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North will not dare to pronounce Tory policy and say that they will ease up on I.D.C.s and reduce Government aid. If that is what they intend to do, I challenge the hon. Member to say it now. The Tory Party will either keep the inducements and the 499 I.D.C. policy for the benefit of the development areas, or they will not. I challenge the hon. Member to say what his party's policy is.
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott
I accept the challenge at once. We have said consistently, and we say again, that we will continue to aid the development areas, but we will do it much more intelligently and to much greater effect.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I will close my remarks in deference to the co-operation that we have had from the Chair in the sharing of time.
The question of intelligence does not come into this. The record speaks for itself. For areas like mine, the intelligent approach of the Conservative Party produced despair and despondency. We have replaced that with Government policy whereby I have in my constituency a nuclear power station, a new shopping centre, a better house-building programme and more amenities than ever before. That is the pattern of physical development in the North. I am satisfied what the electorate will do. They will decide what intelligence is at work in their interests, and they will reject the party opposite.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)
I wish that the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) would come and see the distressing and tragic employment situation which is building up in Lincolnshire. I was sorry that the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning dismissed the unemployment which we now have in Lincolnshire as part of merely a regional pattern.
I think we all agree that the problem with unemployment is as the Hunt Committee said in its Report on the Intermediate Areas:Unemployment remains very largely a regional problem.But when it gets to the proportions it is now getting to in the Gainsborough and North Lincolnshire area, it becomes a very serious problem indeed. In the Gainsborough employment exchange area alone, at the last count at the end of April this year, 5.3 per cent. of the insured population were unemployed, com- 500 pared with 2.7 per cent. in Great Britain and 3 per cent. for the Humberside region. It is worse than the Northern Region, of which we have heard so much and where the last count was 5.2 per cent., and it is second only to the unemployment situation which we all know is worse—the 6.9 per cent. of the insured population unemployed in Northern Ireland.
It is distressing how the problem is growing in Gainsborough and in my part of North Lincolnshire. It is caused by people losing their jobs in far greater numbers than the Department of Employment and Productivity can possibly place in other employment. This tendency has grown enormously since 1966. The reason for it, certainly north of the Trent, is the lack of work on building and civil engineering, which causes great concern in that part of the world.
Building and civil engineering are large employers of labour. They are the two industries which are worst hit by the selective employment tax and the credit squeeze. When one wants to find employment for people, it is iniquitous and unfair to go on taxing employers, who have to pay out 86s. on a Monday morning gefore ever they can employ a man. We all know that selective employment tax has nothing to do with the redistribution of labour. It is a tax which the boss pays and which the Socialist voters do not notice.
In North Lincolnshire, many firms are going bankrupt and having to close down. They have suffered from the credit squeeze and, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer may say that the credit squeeze has now eased, there is little practical sign of it easing for the small industrialists and employers in the Gains-borough area. The real trouble is that the Labour Government, despite repeated requests, have refused to schedule Gains-borough as an intermediate or development area. Yet all round Gainsborough there are places which have far lower unemployment counts which have been scheduled. The marginal seat of Doncaster, for example, which is next door to Gainsborough, has a much lower unemployment figure than Gainsborough, yet it is scheduled as an intermediate area.
The Secretary of State and several hon. Gentlemen made great play of the jobs 501 which have been created by the granting of I.D.Cs. I am forced to the conclusion, from practical experience of trying to get firms to apply for I.D.C., that there is almost a political bias in the granting of them. My constituency needs a firm to come to the area which will provide about 300 jobs on a comparatively simple conveyor belt production line. Just when that firm was about to come into the town it was given a strong hint that it would get an I.D.C. only if it moved to the marginal constituency of Swansea. It would be interesting to compare the unemployment rate in marginal constituencies with the Socialist policy of granting I.D.Cs.
If the Government will not schedule Gainsborough as a development or intermediate area, the most constructive step would be to give people more opportunity to go to one of the 21, shortly rising to 26, Government industrial training centres. There is a large waiting list in the Gainsborough area for admission to those centres. If one writes a letter to the Minister, a vacancy is nearly always offered promptly, but it is quite wrong, in the tragic situation of unemployment, that a place at a training centre is not available until a person is so hard pressed that he writes to his Member of Parliament.
Although there is much unemployment, there are still a large number of vacant jobs. There is an enormous waiting list far skilled engineering workers, electrical draughtsmen, welders and fitters. A constructive way of helping would be for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to refund the selective employment tax in employment exchange areas where unemployment on Budget day was over 4 per cent. of the insured population. In this way, employers would be encouraged to employ more people.
It is depressing to represent an area of high unemployment because there is so much hidden misery. When jobs are hard to get, not all the unemployed will register. Many people have to work a long way from their homes and must pay tax on petrol to travel these long distances. The amount of take-home pay is reduced when people have to go far afield to find jobs.
I hope that the Government will reconsider their decision and agree to the 502 scheduling of Gainsborough as an intermediate area.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)
Unemployment is a very emotive subject, and we in South Wales feel that we know a little about it because of our personal experience. I am not wholly satisfied with the Government's policies for employment in the regions, but I cannot dispute that they have achieved a large measure of success in contrast to the old days.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths), who has had such a distinguished career and who knows so much about this subject from personal experience, has said that in his career he has witnessed many run-downs in the mining industry, but the present one is the most humane yet. Miners over the age of 55 can now get 90 per cent. of their take-home pay for a period of three years, and the Redundancy Payments Act, which was one of the first Measures to be introduced by this Government, has done much to relieve the distress of unemployment. The rundown of the mining industry has caused unemployment in South Wales. The Government's regional employment policy has achieved a good deal of success but it has cost a lot of money, and one wonders whether some of this money would have been better spent on publicly-owned industries strategically placed in areas of high unemployment.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) thought that miners over the age of 55 should be struck off the employment register, but I do not agree with him about this. Many of these men would be only too pleased to take a job. I am not saying that at their time of life they can be made into skilled tradesmen, but miners are very adaptable people and, if work were available close at hand, they would be only too pleased to take a job.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee
Would my hon. Friend not agree that it is unreal to regard miners in that category as classified in the same way as workers on the life register of unemployed?
§ Mr. Hughes
I might have got the wrong impression, but I want to make the point on behalf of those people who are only too ready to take up work.
503 W. H. Davies, the tramp poet, invited us to stand and stare. If we do this at present in Newport we find that it is a thriving and prosperous town with a great future. At the moment, we have the well-known Maritime Industrial Development Area Scheme—M.I.D.A.S. involving a major industrial and port complex on the flats east and west of Newport. We must also bear in mind the Severn site development, which would very much affect the South Wales side of the Bristol Channel. These developments are essential for the future of South Wales.
Looking at the present situation we should examine the positive ways in which the Government have helped the area of South Wales which I have the honour to represent, and also South Wales in general. Hon. Members will remember the controversy over the Port of Bristol's expansion scheme at Port-bury. Many of us on the South Wales seaboard feel that this could have spelt ruin for the South Wales ports. We would all have been directly competing for trade from the Midlands, motor cars, steel coils, timber, and so on. We in South Wales were relieved when the Government decided to reject the Portbury scheme.
The Port of Bristol then came along with a modified scheme, the West Dock scheme—what we termed a mini-Portbury. But, again, that scheme was rejected. I understand that Bristol has yet another scheme, a scaled-down version, a mini-mini-Portbury.
These three schemes have one thing in common. They have all been backed by principal spokesmen of the Conservative Party. Had the development been allowed to go ahead, it could well have had disastrous effects on the ports in South Wales. One or two of them could well have been closed down, putting a number of our dockers on the dole. I commend the Government for their wise action in turning down this scheme. What was the point in creating additional facilities when facilities in South Wales were already under-utilised?
A further point I should like to raise relates to the report of the Hunt Committee, which excluded South Wales. Within 24 hours the Government had 504 rejected its recommendations and saw to it that Cardiff, Newport and some surrounding areas were included and given grey area status. This provides for assistance with new factory building, training and site reclamation. It has been of positive help towards solving the unemployment problems of South Wales.
The British Steel Corporation has announced a £42 million scheme of investment for the great Spencer steel works which will provide 1,000 new jobs. This development will set the seal on the prosperity of the whole of South Monmouthshire. In addition, there has been a major investment in the Ebbw Vale steel works. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) was delighted when he heard that news. We are glad to see the publicly-owned steel industry making such good progress.
I praise the Government for their dispersal policy. About 10,000 new jobs have come to Wales as a result of the siting there of offices and other establishments. The Motor Taxation Office has been established in Swansea, the Royal Mint has gone to Llantrisant, and the Census Office to Newport. All these will have a tremendous effect on employment possibilities in South Wales generally.
The Conservative Party speaks about cutting public expenditure, but at the same time, declares the intention of maintaining a presence east of Suez. That would increase, not decrease, public expenditure. If ever there is a Conservative Government again, we in South Wales know where the cuts will come. The old, the sick and the needy would suffer and cuts in development area aid would increase unemployment. We in South Wales know, the Tory Party from an abundance of experience. The election results bear this out.
We appreciate that the Government's policies are by no means perfect and much more remains to be done. These policies need a little refining. The full realisation of the Government's plans will take some time to be evident. Meanwhile, much has been achieved. I am proud to be associated with the efforts that the Government have made to provide employment for our people.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I shall speak, I hope, only briefly. I want to raise an area problem but I do not want the House to think that I am raising a purely constituency or parochial problem. I am rather illustrating a problem which exists, particularly in my part of the country in Kent, which shows up a deficiency in the Government's programme.
We heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) of his concern that the Government had plans, planners and economists and that those plans, planners and economists were not solving our problems. That is what we are debating, the riddle of unemployment, which is over 600,000 and has been at that high level for more than 32 months. It is a challenging problem to the Minister of Technology. I am glad that he is here tonight. It is a challenging problem that the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning. I am sorry that the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity is not present, because we are talking of something which is also her concern. What I have to say has to do with planning and with the activities and instructions which should come from the Minister of Technology if these problems are to be dealt with.
In the Minister of Technology and the Secretary of State, who opened this debate, we have two men who have very powerful opportunities. They are very powerful indeed for the country. They are overlords overseeing several Ministries. They have the opportunity to put right some of the problems which are producing unemployment in the country today. I am reminded of a song about two gendarmes who had a solution for everything that went wrong. It ended with the words:We run them in, we run them in.These two Ministers have a solution to all the problems, "We have a plan, we have a plan". They have a plan, but it does not work. The right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) made a most captivating speech showing his concern that his Front Bench colleagues have not found a solution.
I speak of an area in Kent to which the Secretary of State referred in his 506 speech at the opening of the debate as a prosperous area. The South-East is not a development area, but in March this year the number of unemployed in Kent was 15,374. The area is bigger than that of North Cornwall. The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) spoke of the highest figure of unemployment reached in his area as 8,000. The number of 15,000 unemployed in Kent compares with 4,676 in July, 1965.
The Minister spoke of regional inequalities. I should choose to speak of sub-regional inequalities. We are a forgotten sector of a large prosperous area. The South-East is rich overall in employment opportunities. It includes London. It is a growth area. It attracts people. It has a high standard of living. But not everywhere.
In North-East Kent, the part in which I am most interested, there is a pocket not just of resistance, but of decline and decay. There is no solution, no plan, for it. Nothing is offered. This decay is occurring in a coastal strip from Sittingbourne, through my constituency, to Folkestone. My hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) is here this evening. There is also a problem much further towards London in Gravesend and the Medway Towns. But the real problem lies further east where there is little opportunity and hardly any industrial development. The towns on this coastal strip are dying a slow, sad death. The people see no opportunity of future employment, because no opportunity is being provided.
In March, 1970, the total of unemployed from Gravesend around the coast to Hythe was just under 11,500, of which 9,000 were in the smaller area from Sittingbourne to Hythe. The percentage of unemployed about which we have heard today around the country are interesting. I know that statistics can be deceptive, but the smallest figure in the City of Canterbury is 3 per cent., which is consistent, and the highest figure in two of the coastal towns, Herne Bay and Whitstable, is 8.5 per cent. These kind of figures make people disheartened and discouraged.
What are the Government doing to prevent this decline? I cannot believe that they want it to continue. They state that they are showing sympathy. I will 507 not bore the House by quoting letters that I have had from the Minister of State, Ministry of Technology. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman nods in response to my remark. I have had assurances that the Government will view with sympathy the problems in this area. I am grateful, but sympathy is no substitute for action.
Kent needs more industry, more office development, more positive moves to direct to office and industrial development which would mop up the unemployment that I have mentioned. Sympathetic consideration of the grant of I.D.C.'s and O.D.P.'s is not enough. I have been told in letters from the Ministry that it is for the local authorities and perhaps for myself to persuade manufacturers, employers, to take a look at Kent and to invest in Kent. I have another letter from the Minister of Housing and Local Government telling me to do exactly that.
I have recently embarked on my own interpretation of the Maud Report. Only this week I collected together four local authorities, under my chairmanship, to make a group plan—not a parochial plan for individual authorities trying to solve their individual problems—because a factory in one area can provide employment for the other three. This kind of initiative would be helpful from the Government. I wish that the Government would not sit hack and leave it all to the local authorities to take the initiative.
The problem is that there is no incentive for a manufacturer to come into this prosperous area, because there are no financial incentives and no R.E.P. The investment grant is 20 per cent., not 40 per cent., and so on. There are no building grants. We have been told by the Minister of Housing and Local Government that if we can persuade manufacturers of the attractiveness of our area, he will be sympathetic to the granting of I.D.C.s and O.D.P.s.
We are helped by a local voluntary body which has grown up out of the necessity of tackling this problem. The Minister has had many letters from Mr. Bridger, the Chairman of the South-East England Development Board. It is remarkable that a voluntary organisation has shown such initiative and energy in studying the figures from the three 508 Departments concerned and has been of great assistance to the local authorities in work which they are not fully equipped to do themselves. In addition, this voluntary body is helping me to see the size and shape of the problem.
I think that the Government must open the door and help, not just manufacturers to come down there, but men to get employment. During interview sessions at my surgery I have met men who have been out of work for three years. I grant that they come to me well dressed, well heeled, and well turned out, and I am all for that and for the generosity which enables them to do that. But there is a lack of hope among these men because there is not enough industry to employ them.
§ Mr. Costain
My hon. Friend's experience is the same as mine. Does he not find that one tragedy is the large number of school leavers who are not able to get jobs?
§ Mr. Crouch
I was coming to that, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for intervening. About 7,000 school leavers a year come on to the market for jobs, but there are no jobs for them; neither office nor industrial jobs. The result is that they have to look elsewhere, mainly in London.
There is a commuter train service up the coast to London. These young people, who live perhaps 60 miles from London, fill the trains to bursting point, to the great discomfort of everyone. I then have to write to the Minister of Transport to ask him to tackle that problem. I am told that the Southern Region of British Railways will embark on a programme costing £220 million to make it more comfortable for people to get from North-East Kent, a declining area, into the Medway towns or London where there are industries and employment.
I hope that the Minister will take positive action to give encouragement and not discouragement to manufacturers who might think of extending their development or coming to develop in the north-east of Kent. It is no longer true to think of this area as purely a seaside resort which declines in the winter and gets back into full employment and productivity as it were in the summer. These areas are no longer seaside resorts in 509 that sense. They were seaside resorts, but they do not now provide any employment.
We have another problem about which I have often spoken in the House. We have a coalfield in Kent. Last July one of the four collieries there was closed. Once there were four collieries, now there are three. Once there were 5,000 miners; now there are just over 4,000. We cannot offer those miners who have been displaced jobs and pay which are comparable to what they were getting at the coal face. There is great disillusion in the area, but I shall not weary the House with details of that.
What are the Government planning for this area in the next 10 to 15 years? I wrote to the Chairman of the National Coal Board, Lord Robens, to tell him that he, too, must start to think and talk to the Government about providing against the time when the contraction of the coalfield will affect the miners there. This may be in 10 or 15 years' time. Are the Government planning for the future? Are they thinking of what will happen to the miners? Twenty acres of National Coal Board land above the old colliery at Chislet are scheduled as industrial land, and we want it. We could develop it into a small industrial site to help to solve our problem.
We have good communications in our area. Factories can be developed, and it is possible for office blocks to be built 15 or 20 miles from the labour reservoir. A factory in Whitstable would help solve the unemployment problems of Canterbury, Herne Bay and even Faversham and the Thanet towns. But there is a limit to the distance that people are prepared to travel.
I must be parochial in this and say that the solution to these problems is not to be found in Ashford or Maidstone. Internal communications are not good. The good communications, both road and rail, go along the coast. I do not seek to turn this corner of England into an industrial area; I seek, rather, to prevent its death. I want to increase its wealth and happiness and, above all, to bring back some hope to people who have been so long unemployed.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon A. T. Bagier (Sunderland, South)
The hon. Member for Canter- 510 bury (Mr. Crouch) has made a very good constituency speech. I congratulate him for trying to look after his constituency. But our debate today is about unemployment over the whole country. The hon. Member outlined what sounded like some grim prospects for his constituency, but I wish that I had his problems, rather than the far more difficult ones that exist in Sunderland.
Just before he sat down he said that he was worried about what would happen in Kent in 10 or 15 years' time. I wish that his Government had worried about my area 10 or 15 years ago. They gave no thought to it. The Government today are also thinking about the grey areas. We appreciate the problems there. I wish that the hon. Member's Government, 10 or 15 years ago, had appreciated what would happen in Scotland, the North of England, and Wales. If they had done so then we might not now be faced with a Motion of censure, of all things, on the subject of unemployment.
On 23rd February, we were told the Opposition's alternative regional policy. Unemployment is a question of regional policy. Unemployment is an unbalanced situation. If the Government want to expand the economy, what is right for the South and Midlands is not good enough for the North, for Scotland and for Wales. Those areas will still be in the cold. But if the Government, on a national scale, do what is right for Scotland, the North of England, and Wales, there is raging inflation in the South. We must reach a balance. That is what the Government's regional policy is about. That is why, on 23rd February, we pressed the right hon. Member for Leeds North-East (Sir K. Joseph) to spell out the Conservative Party's proposals and to be honest about it.
I can understand the argument of the hon. Member for Canterbury and his hon:Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball). Of course, they do not like a slice of the national economy being ploughed into the regions. There is no joy for the Tories in the North of England. We do not return any Tories from Durham. We send only two or three from Northumberland, and very few from Scotland and Wales. I can understand the party opposite not being very concerned about the regions.
511 I was surprised that the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East was so candid. But he must start thinking in the terms in which Sir John Hunter has thought about the problem. Sir John Hunter, of the Swan Hunter group, has said that he is phasing out the regional employment premiums. No less than £1½ million of the £l.6 million profit of Swan Hunter last year was accounted for by regional employment premiums. The shipbuilding industry, which is a large employer in my area, is entitled to be told by hon. Members opposite what they mean by a regional policy, and what effect it will have on unemployment in the regions.
This is what we are entitled to know. It should be spelled out much more clearly, because it is causing consternation among American bankers and industrialists who want to establish a European base here.
I was recently at a reception for bankers from America, Holland, Switzerland and Italy, when the North-East Development Council was putting the case for expansion in the area. The question put to us was this, "Your Government is offering all these inducements to move into the regions, these financial aids and training incentives and regional employment premiums, but a General Election is coming. It looks"—as it did then—"as if you might be defeated. We had better wait, because the Opposition, the alternative Government, have said that they will not carry on some of these facilities". They rightly asked, "Should we take the plunge and put our investments into these areas, or should we wait until after the General Election?".
This is the effect of the Selsdon Park proposals on regions like mine. Hon. Gentlemen opposite owe it to the country and they owe it to us, while we are still trying to get people into our areas, to spell them out more clearly.
Today's debate has been rather a sham from the party opposite. I do not believe in crocodile tears. They have never been the friends of people out of work, or particularly concerned about people who were put out of work. They have never been magnanimous with financial help for redundancy payments or wage related unemployment benefits and the like—all necessary facets of a modern society 512 facing technological change, with its effects on people in particular industries. These people are bound to face change. Miners or shipbuilding workers who change their jobs are entitled to some consideration, because their investment has been their lives and not financial investment.
This party has done this, and we like to give credit where it is due. There is a very high unemployment rate in my constituency, and I could make a very good attack on my own Government for that, but that would be totally dishonest, because the change in industry, with the replacement of miners, the change of structure in the shipbuilding industry and the intense international competition faced by the ship-repairing industry has all had its effect. The real problem can be solved only with time and planning and the intention to put it right.
The basic problems which we are facing are still paramount in my region. We have a very high unemployment rate, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) knows from his experiences when he was responsible for the region. Fifty per cent. of that unemployment rate are over the age of 40 and 45 per cent. are over the age of 45. This is the depth of the difficulty. The Government have tried to solve it by providing a phased increase in the number of training centres. I hope that hon. Members opposite, with their great influence in industry, will encourage their industrial friends to move into the regions. But I suspect that they will not, and are far more interested in letting alaissez-faireeconomy go its own way, find its own level and create further problems which have been greatly built up in the Midlands and the South-East.
A strong Government must say, "You cannot go on in this way. You must think of a national economy based on full employment, which means from the north coast of Scotland to the west coast of Wales and 'the south coast of England —not just the concentrated areas." We must, of course, think not only in human terms, but in terms of the national economy.
It costs the Government a lot of money to pay people benefits when they are out of work. We have provided high rates of unemployment pay and this causes a drain 513 on the economy. The Government do not want to pay people to be out of work. They want what the unemployed want, which is that each person should contribute to, and have a share of, the national cake. I accept that many of my constituents are having a touch time. I have more faith that their problems will be solved with Labour in power than should hon. Gentlemen opposite become the Government.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)
The hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) made a short, strong, political intervention. I found his remarks interesting. He is, like each hon. Member, entitled to his point of view. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not immediately comment on his remarks, but as my speech proceeds I will come to some of the suggestions which he made.
Last month was the coldest April for 30 years. It was also particularly chilling for the many thousands of people who are facing being out of work on a continuing basis. We had an interesting account from the Secretary of State of the catalogue of alleged successes which have occurred under Labour in industrial planning in the regions. At the end of his speech I was left wondering why, if all those things had been done, the figures are so bad and why we are having to table a censure Motion in which we speak of the rate of unemployment in April being the highest since 1940.
If all the actions of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke have taken place, and have tended to work, as he suggested, it is amazing that we are not in a more satisfactory position, particularly from the unemployment point of view.
In view of the catalogue of events to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, I must, at the outset, make two statements which are particularly relevant. First, the true level of unemployment in April, and in the previous month of March, showed, in the seasonally adjusted figures, the highest unemployment rate of any month since the war, with the exception of the period of the 1947 fuel crisis.
Secondly, the April figures also reflected an underlying increase in the true trend of unemployment since last November. The annual average of un 514 employment has not so far exceeded 550,000 in any year since 1940, but the average so far this year is running at about 560,000. I emphasise, if hon. Gentlemen opposite are thinking that I am tailoring these figures for my own use, that these deductions are not mine. They come from Mr. Peter Jay, the economics expert ofThe Times,who is a supporter of the Labour Party. Indeed, I gather that he is seeking nomination for a rather safe Labour seat in Islington. We look forward to having a contribution from him in due course, after the General Election; that is, when he will be sitting on these benches, in opposition.
Time and again in this debate—in which there have been some thoughtful contributions and some avowedly political ones, such as that made by the hon. Member for Sunderland, South—I have thought of the uproar there would have been had we been the Government of the day and presented unemployment figures of the sort with which we are faced. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would have been throwing the book at us. They would have been hammering us with censure Motions.
We recall the days under the Conservatives when unemployment was running at a far lower level. We recall how we were criticised then by hon. Gentlemen opposite whenever the figures tended to creep up a little. It is quite fantastic that, despite all the apologies we have had today from Government spokesmen —and we shall probably get some more from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Technology—right hon. and hon. Members opposite are prepared to tolerate these sets of figures.
The debate has emphasised the nation's disturbing unemployment situation. It is a state of affairs over which, despite their admitted attention to regional policies, and no one would deny that, the Government have not got adequate control. The position could grow worse in due course unless there is much better and more rigorous action than we have had so far; and despite the optimism of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which one would expect in an election year. We must, in an election year expect the Government to show this rather unhappy tendency to play down the situation, and to pretend that it is somewhat transitory 515 and a problem more of redeployment than of general unemployment.
It is alleged from the other side, and it is a fair point for Government supporters to make, that the sting has been taken out of unemployment by virtue of the admittedly better unemployment and redundancy payments. The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) said that it was now an entirely different problem. He did not think that there was much of a long-term unemployment problem there at all, but on that score I disagree with him fundamentally. It is true that some of the sting has been taken out of the situation, but for many the eroding poison of not being wanted is still left in the wound.
As to whether or not the unemployment situation is serious, I want to quote from an inportant leading article inThe Times,published in January. It stated:But there comes a point at which all this sophisticated interpretation and explaining away of politically palatable unemployment figures goes too far. The Government must now begin to face up to the fact that, on the basis of present policies, the margin of slack in unemployment is bordering on the unacceptable.It certainly is bordering on the unacceptable. I repeat my surprise that hon. Members opposite should be prepared to tolerate such unemployment figures.
Again, quite fairly, the Labour Party has always laid great stress on full employment. Time and time again, it has featured full employment prominently in its election prospectuses, on television programmes and in the speeches of its leaders. We all know that it was the big emotive political issue of the 'twenties and 'thirties. It has always remained the central plank of the Socialist Party of what it is pleased to call social justice.
It is true that the accent on unemployment has changed. It is true that many men are taking longer to decide what job they will take up if they find themselves redundant, or if they are sacked. It is true that the fearsome queues outside employment exchanges of listless men who knew that they stood little chance of getting jobs for years, have gone and, we hope, have gone for good. But the unemployed man of yesterday has been replaced by someone nearly as pathetic. He is the long-term unemployed worker who may well be cushioned by benefit 516 payments but who gradually loses self-respect and confidence as a useful member of society. That point was well made in a very fine speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott).
If there should be doubts that we have the problem of the long-term unemployed person, let me quote one or two of the latest percentages. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) had a Written Question to the Department of Employment and Productivity on the numbers and percentages of men registered as wholly unemployed. That Question was answered today. It will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow, but my hon. Friend has kindly furnished me with a copy.
The latest figures show the trend in long-term unemployment. In the Northern area, 27.2 per cent. of men have been unemployed for over a year. The percentage in Wales is 24.8; in the East Midlands, it is 21.2; in Scotland it is 20.9; in the South-Western area—which includes the constituency of the hon. Member for Cornwall—it is 19.2; and in Yorkshire, again, it is 19.2. In the South-Western area, 63.1 per cent. have been unemployed for over nine weeks; in the Northern area 68.1 per cent.; and in Wales 64.9 per cent.
We are not merely talking about people who, because of changing industries, are out of a job and are gradually going back, but about men for whom this is a severe problem stretching over weeks and months and then years. This should give us cause for grave concern. I think that sometimes technocrats look at today's unemployed as statistics rather than as individual people.
I do not say that they do so deliberately—I am sure that they are honest and sincere—but they give that impression. In the end, the success of economic management is concerned really with people rather than with figures. It is no use being able to prove that one has a temporary balance of payments surplus if one has a continuing trend of unemployment. We have to give people the opportunity to work and be happy.
There are those who say that today there are men who do not want to work because they get so much money for not doing so that there is little point in their 517 working. I am not one of those people who say that. I do not join that band. There are scroungers and naturally lazy men, and this was referred to by the right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee), with much of whose speech I agreed, although he spoilt it a little by the politics at the end. However, we are all entitled to do that. We have always had scroungers and lazy men and shall always have them, but I believe that the vast majority of people wish to be able to work and to be occupied in a useful way. They are anxious to preserve their human dignity by showing that they are capable of supporting themselves and others.
Imagine the crushing indignity for a man who has been jobless for a year, whose only crime is that he is not sufficiently well trained for one of the jobs vacant in his area, or whose age is against him. He might well be in his middle fifties. One of the most alarming things to emerge from the debate is the way we have talked about men in their fifties being made redundant, some of whom may never get another job. Really, we are talking of ourselves in many cases—men who are in the prime of life. How can one undermine a man's confidence in that respect?
§ Mr. Fernyhough
I do not disagree with the argument the hon. Gentleman is making, but I hope he remembers that in the years 1962 and 1963 the Conservative Government reduced the amount spent on industrial training in Government establishments.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
We pioneered industrial training.
The hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) is a realist. I know he will agree with me that it is very bad that men of 50 should be placed in this position. Imagine the feelings of a longterm unemployed man who has been out of work for a year seeing his daughter perhaps going out to work in full employment and bringing home a wage which, a few years ago, would have made him green with envy. It takes away a man's self-respect to be in that position. That is what I am afraid we may be doing in the regions, because the Government policies have failed signally to create sufficient job opportunities.
If I read the figures aright, I am sorry to say that I see a continuing trend 518 towards long-term unemployment. Over 25 per cent. of those unemployed in the Northern region have been out of work for over a year and over 62 per cent. of those unemployed in the country at large have been workless for over eight weeks. We have heard today something about manpower forecasting. Apart from aspects of regional policy, I want to refer to this because I want to talk about the Department of Employment and Productivity's various experiments with a view to improving the facilities of the employment exchanges.
They include self-service facilities for job vacancies, more professional advisory services, area managers responsible for assessing how situations are developing in their own districts, and an extension of specialist help for white-collar workers.
These are all very good in their own ways, but they are inadequate. The employment exchange is a service which needs a new image. It is still known to far too many of its customers by its old colloquial name of "the labour". In most cases the name conjures up visions of brown institutional paint on the walls and shoddy minimal furniture. There is often a lack of professionalism about their activities and all too often this is accompanied by an air of latent despondency. There is a crying need for modern techniques of manpower forecasting to be developed and built up quickly.
The need is to find out from employers what kind of labour they will require in the years immediately ahead and to adjust training to meet demands. That is why my party is giving deep consideration to a manpower commission which could also help over mobility of labour questions, expert job guidance and the information which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr). I hope, too, that attention will be given to housing policy. One of the greatest disincentives against moving from one area to another is not being able to get another suitable house easily when there is not flexibility of interchange between councils.
We must have far more adequate retraining facilities, particularly for the workers of more than 50 whom I have just mentioned. This is why some of my colleagues and I have recently been urging the Government to undertake a 519 critical review of the Industrial Training Act instead of tinkering with it, as they now are in a Bill now going through Parliament. It is very important that modern manpower needs should be properly identified and properly applied. The right hon. Member for Newton was so right to say that one of the keys to the whole problem is training and retraining.
§ Mr. Bagier
The hon. Member has rightly stressed the problem for the over-50s and over-45s and the need for retraining. Would he not go further and try to instil in industry and among management generally the importance of at least interviewing people of that age instead of rejecting them without seeing them? It is a distinct disadvantage to a man of that age to have to state his age on the application form before he is even considered.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
I am glad to be able to agree with the hon. Member. Since first coming to the House, I have fought the case of the over-40s and now that I am over 40 it becomes more relevant. It identifies more than anything else the need for professional services at employment exchanges and manpower commissions so that these people may be helped. Industry is wrong to close its mind to the middle-aged man. He is often far more efficient and has a better approach to his work than the younger man.
Unemployment is very much a regional problem, as most speakers today have emphasised, but there is very little comfort in that. The Secretary of State tended to play this down and rather implied that it was not too bad because it was a regional problem. But we are a very small island with a very large population and we ought not to have this imbalance throughout the geography of the nation.
Unemployment has increased in every region during the course of the last five years. The present development areas were scheduled under the Industrial Development Act in August, 1966. The position in all of them worsened drastically after the crisis measures of 1966, crisis measures which, though needed, left us with a difficult situation, and the position has deteriorated during the last 520 three years. We last debated unemployment only three months ago. The underlying position has not improved since, despite the assurances given by the right hon. Gentleman.
In a very effective speech then, the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. George Jeger) who, I am sorry to say, is not here tonight, but who is one of the most experienced Members of the House, put it very well on 3rd February when he said:Now we are in a position where, happily, our exports have reached record levels. At the same time, our unemployment has also reached record levels. Although it has been gratifying to hear about the amount of money, time and work which has been put in to the special development areas, we should consider whether much of the work has been worth while. I have figures here published in HANSARD on 24th June last. They show that, in the special development areas over the years from April, 1964, to April, 1969, these special efforts resulted in almost a doubling of unemployment. That is so for Scotland, Wales and the Northern Region." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1970; Vol. 795, c. 238–9.]When right hon. Gentlemen opposite hear their own experienced back-benchers making such points they must know that this is so and that something serious has to be done. We have also heard about the grey areas where the situation is serious. There has been talk of the large number of vacancies available for the unemployed. Too much talk about the number of vacancies is misleading. The ratio of vacancies to people unemployed varies enormously from region to region. This is why it needs to be identified very carefully by experts.
In Scotland and the Northern Region, in April, there were seven adults wholly unemployed for every vacancy available. In Wales, there were 6 for every vacancy, 4 in Yorkshire and Humberside and there were roughly 1½ people in London and the South-East to each vacancy. A situation like this does not imply that a man can go out and get one of these vacancies, unless he is fortunate in living in London and the South-East and even then he comes up against difficulties.
§ Mr. Pardoe
Would the hon. Gentleman estimate for the benefit of the House exactly what proportion of those people about whom he is talking actually want to get a job, because this is the reserve of labour on which we need to concentrate?
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Gentleman, but I believe there are far more people wanting to get jobs than he realises, far more who believe in preserving their dignity and having a job, however humble, rather than being cushioned by the effects of State welfare payments.
We have been asked about our policy and it is instructive that the Government have nowadays become so interested in concentrating on our proposals to the exclusion of solving their own difficulties. This is because they try to deflect attention from their failures. It is a good technique sometimes, but it does not always work. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham spoke of some of the fundamental needs and changes required if we are to have a viable employment policy. Without going over the ground in too much detail, I would say that if we are to be successful in cutting down the unemployment rate we must encourage a faster rate of growth.
There must be fundamental changes in the economic policy of the nation. We must have new industrial relations and a better environment, more vigorous competition and a more positive employment policy along the lines I have described, and better tax incentives not only for industry, but the individual, so that he gets a real return for his work. The Secretary of State went through the regional and development area policies of my party as spelled out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). In reply to one query which he put to me, I can tell him that we will keep the I.D.C. system and we will apply it with firmness. We will also apply it with fairness and flexibility. Cases will be decided on their merits. We shall keep the development area boundaries until the problems in a region are seen to be on the way to a solution.
We shall keep an investment incentive differential in favour of the development areas and we shall phase out the regional employment premium. Why? Because we think we can make better use of the money in helping to cure the fundamental reasons for unemployment.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
On a point of order. Is it not deplorable 522 that during an important debate like this there should be such a trifling number of hon. Members present on the other side of the House and that the First Secretary has only just come in? Is there not something that can be done to get hon. Members to attend?
I am sure that the hon. Member's hon. Friend is grateful to him for interrupting. That is not a point of order at all.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
I agree with the Minister about the importance of the infrastructure. It is vital that we have better communications to the development areas. Only the other day I heard of the possibility of a factory being established in a region. The company concerned decided not to go there merely because there was not an airport within reasonable reach to get its senior executives there. The question of the environment is also very important, and we subscribe to the view of the Minister.
I now sum up our policy. We need more flexibility in regional policy. If we can combine it with a better economic climate and give the individual more incentive, the unemployment figures will come down. Undeniably, the Government have poured money into the development areas, but it has not produced the results which they thought it would. Some companies have benefited very substantially when others should have been encouraged to go to the area to provide extra jobs for the long term unemployed. The regional employment premium has been costing the nation about £100 million a year, and a good deal of it is sheer waste. This situation cannot go on indefinitely.
I come, finally, to a very important point. I describe it as probably Sherlock Holmes would have described it—" the case of the dog which did not bark ". When we last debated this subject, I did some research on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and I discovered that the First Secretary of State, who joined us a few moments ago, was the first Minister of Labour, or the equivalent title of that post, to speak in 523 a debate on unemployment for 20 years. She must now be the first in history to miss two in a row.
On the last occasion that we debated this subject we had the advantage of hearing the Minister of State, Department of Employment and Productivity, the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell). He is quite capable of presenting the Government's case, perhaps even more so than the right hon. Lady. But even he has been dropped on this occasion. What have we had in substitution? We have had pollution with a bad cold and the white heat of the technological revolution. I sympathise with the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning, the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), who spoke valiantly, although he was suffering from a cold. We accept that he cannot be with us for the winding-up speeches. But pollution and the white heat of technology will not bring much comfort to the hearts of the long-term unemployed.
§ Mr. John Mendelsonrose—
Order. The hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Dudley Smith) is obviously not giving way.
§ Mr. John Mendelson
On a point of order. I was present when the two opening speeches were made. I could, therefore, give evidence. The hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Dudley Smith) should allow me to speak about the quality of my right hon. Friend's speech as against that of the Opposition Front Bench spokesman, who said nothing of substance.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
I would willingly have given way to the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) if he had been here for most of the day, but he has not. If he keeps interrupting, he will only take time from his right hon. Friend, and I want to be fair to his right hon. Friend.
I hope that I am not being discourteous to the two leading Government Ministers in the debate when I say that it is a disgrace that the right hon. Lady 524 the First Secretary of State has not spoken today. She is the Minister responsible for employment and is the one who is always talking about it outside the House. I am almost forced to the conclusion that the Department of Employment and Productivity has washed its hands of the unemployment situation.
Unemployment is primarily a human problem. I am sure that a large number of Government back bench members are, rightly, very worried about it—perhaps more worried than they are prepared to admit here. It is, however, to their credit that some hon. Members have spoken up, and others have done so on other occasions. I remember an intervention by the hon. Member for Jarrow, who is not an obscure back bencher but is a veritable pillar of the Establishment on his side of the House, and who said last week that redundancy payments were not substitutes for jobs. I agree with the hon. Member.
I believe that the cost to the nation at present is the longest prolonged period of high unemployment for 30 years, a vast increase in concealed unemployment and, with it all, the fastest rate of inflation for 20 years. The Labour Party, with all its boasts, on placards and elsewhere, about being the party which cares and the party of heart and soul, has today become the party of unemployment. No sleight of hand, no juggling with the figures, no explanations, about redeployment and no stress on the number of vacancies, can rid Labour of that charge. The charge is the one that sticks, and for that we roundly condemn the Government.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Minister of Technology(Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn)
Most hon. Members who have spoken in the debate have referred to the special regional nature of unemployment in Britain today. This has emerged from every speech and this is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning and I, who are responsible for regional industrial policy, have been chosen to speak. All I can say is that the speech of the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Dudley Smith) which contained very thoughtful parts, ended with an extremely silly political point designed simply to prepare and underline the motive for this 525 debate, which is to try to get the maximum electoral advantage out of the difficulties that confront us.
The debate fell into two separate parts. We had speeches from the Opposition Front Bench, which were along the lines I have described, and we had a number of extremely good speeches from back benchers on both sides. Before I come to the main argument, I want to deal with some of the constituency points which have been raised, because they highlight the nature of the problem which we are discussing.
I should like to deal with a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Sough Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) about the Palmers Yard in Jarrow. I think that my hon. Friend knows, and the House is aware, that the Geddes Report did not cover ship-repairing, and there are certain geographical and other problems associated with ship-repairing on which we expect a report before long.
In view, however, of the history of that yard and the level of unemployment in that part of the country, my hon. Friend will want to know that we have been seized of this problem from the outset—indeed, before it became public knowledge—and I am hopeful, or, at least, not unhopeful, that it may be possible to make a contribution to the solution of this problem.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) made a much more thoughtful speech than that of his right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham. The more, however, that he analysed—and what I liked about his speech was the analysis—the problems of the Scottish economy, the more he was driven to selectivity. The very criticism which is continually laid against the Government in dealing with this and other problems is the selectivity of our policy. When the hon. Member for Pollok, who is too honest in his thinking to be diverted from the proper conclusions of his analysis, thought it all out, he concluded that what was wanted were more people thinking about where assistance should be given.
When the hon. Member talked about the regional employment premium and said that it stimulated over-manning, he was, curiously, saying that more unemployment should be achieved by reducing the problem of over-manning. I do not 526 want to be unfair to him, because I listened to his speech with considerable interest, but if he followed his analysis instead of his leader's into the Lobby tonight, he might well find himself supporting the policies that we have brought forward.
There have been one or two other hon. Members who, in the same way as they discussed their constituency problems, began outlining at least the objectives which we are trying to meet. The hon. Member for North Fylde (Mr. Clegg) was arguing the case against the immense amount of money put into capital intensive projects. If one takes this view, which I know has become rather fashionable, particularly on the other side of the House, what one is really saying is that the trading estate solution, with a lot of light employment, is the only way of meeting this difficulty. This runs absolutely counter to the idea of the growth point, to which we have devoted a lot of attention, which involves capitally intensive projects. In considering the problem of unemployment in the regions, it would be wrong to say that investment of a high quality and involving high expenditure should be ruled out in development areas, even if only for this reason. Many of the firms which have come to this country from abroad as the result of our development area policies have come because of the high level of investment grants that have been given to them.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee), who probably knows more about this subject than anybody, properly identified the element of job change that lies at the heart of some of the difficulties we are discussing —the problem of people moving their jobs. I want to come to the reason why this has happened, inflating the figures and allowing the House to get perhaps a false impression of what is, despite that, a serious problem. The difficulty of trying to break down the figures in too great detail—although I am entirely with him in spirit—is that the further one breaks down the figures the more one is dependent upon an assessment by the officers involved of exactly what are the job prospects for those people. I think it more important, therefore, that we should be confronted with the totality of the problem if we are prepared to 527 recognise that it conceals a number of different problems within it.
The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), who spoke about the South-West with great passion and feeling, left out of account some of the special measures that have been taken to help his part of the country. I am thinking of the S.E.T. relief for rural hotels, which applies throughout the South-West more comprehensively than elsewhere and the Development of Tourism Act which is also designed to help. I strongly support what he said about the need for certainty in regional policy. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite, and some of my hon. Friends, to examine the question theoretically and to say that it would be better to do it this way or that. In an academic sense and in terms of longterm development there may be value in such an examination. But, if regional incentives are to work, there has to be certainty that they are there for the people who want to take advantage of them. Although I know that the motive is not to shake confidence, because it would be too cruel a charge to lay even against the Opposition, the result of all that has been said by a number of people, including the Leader of the Opposition—who has made speeches that have thrown serious doubt upon what the policy of the Conservative Party would be if ever it came to office—has been to prevent these measures having the effect which both sides of the House want them to have.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon), coming from Merseyside, spoke with deep feeling about specific issues which concerned him. He will recall my visit to Netherton and the Napier works last autumn, when we were trying to find a new use for those plants. This arose not from the merger with English Electric and General Electric, but because of the total load on the plants in the industry. Had this merger not occurred, the problems would have arisen exactly as they did following the merger. There is a tendency, which I fully understand, for some people when they see a merger followed by redundancy to link the one with the other. There are many cases, and I shall cite one or two, where without the merger there would have been 528 much mote serious unemployment in the component firms involved. But my hon. Friend has been patient, and in view of his difficulties I am grateful to him for the way in which he spoke today. I am also grateful to him for refering to the fact that I pushed the Giro in his direction when I was Postmaster-General.
Many other hon. Members who have spoken have made points of considerable importance. But I should like to come to the central question by asking the House to consider some of the wide issues of policy involved in this debate. The two Front Bench speakers opposite spoke without conviction or much compassion.
§ Mr. Benn
I am only giving my view. The reason was that the principal concern in moving this Motion was in these words:That this House regrets that, as a result of the policies of Her Majesty's Government, the number of people out of work …and so on. Candidly, if they had left out the wordsas a result of the policies of Her Majesty's Governmentthe whole of this side of the House would have been with them in the Lobby. There would not have been a Division in the House tonight. If anybody thinks that the level of unemployment is acceptable to Her Majesty's Government then they must ask themselves why we are devoting more time, more money, more effort, more attention and more commitment by Ministers personally to regional policies than has ever occurred in the history of this country in the past.
The truth is that the two Front Bench speakers opposite have not made the least contribution to the debate. Somehow they had to be able to lay the blame for what had happened on the Government, whereas everybody else in the House knows quite well that we are dealing with one of the most intractable and serious problems of economic management.
I want to carry the analysis a stage further. This is not just an economic problem, though that is part of the problem. It is also a human and a psychological problem. A man may have redundancy pay and he may later get a job. But when he loses his capacity to 529 earn, the effect on his self-respect is very great. Even with generous unemployment provision, it is difficult for a man not to feel unwanted, especially if he is unemployed for a long time. Of course, unemployment is too high in Scotland, in Wales, in the Northern Region and in other regions. This is what we are now debating. But to seek to debate unemployment in isolation from our general economic problem over the years is to try to narrow debate to a point at which speeches lose their value to help the situation.
The situation is part of a wider problem of the British economy, a problem which Government after Government have had to confront, not just over the last five-and-a-half years or over the 13 years before that, or even the six years before that. The fact is that historically this country, which was the leading industrial country in the world in 1840, has successfully first lost to the United States, and then been overtaken by Germany. By the time we came to power in 1964 we were in a position where if the trends of the previous five years were projected we would have ended up more or less bottom of the major industrial countries of the world.
The problem of unemployment in its long-term sense is a problem of trying to create an industrial structure competitive enough to sustain full employment. It would be wrong to look at the problems in terms of the time scale contained even by the life of this Government, five-and-a-half years, or even by going back over the previous 13 years. We are dealing with a number of separate issues and I should like to invite the House to consider them one by one.
First of all, we had the short-term necessity of dealing with the indubitable deficit of 1964 and converting it into the surplus of 1970. The point is often made that there was a price paid in unemployment for that switch from deficit to surplus. But it had to be done. It was a hard slog which made us very unpopular with the country, but it had to be done. And if we had not done it that way, we would not have bought the time to deal with the other changes which were required.
§ Mr. R. Carr
The right hon. Gentleman has now been honest and has said that a price had to be paid in terms of unemployment. Why was the Prime Minister not honest in 1966 on that point?
§ Mr. Benn
Let me develop my argument and I will deal with—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Let me develop my argument in my own way and I shall deal with it. If we are to swap quotations, I also keep some.
The second problem was the problem of the underlying weakness which, if we analyse it, we find goes back to the 1880s. It might surprise the House that I put at the top of the very fundamental problems of this country education. If we read Joseph Whitworth we find that he said at the American Exhibition in 1853 that want of education was the cause of our decline. Dr. Lyon Playfair in 1867 also said that it was due to failure of education.
An interesting point which has emerged, even from hon. Members opposite, is that increasingly this debate has turned on people and not just machinery equipment and plant. I am identifying the continued theme. A book in 1901 said that the secret of American success was their better education.
§ Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)
If the right hon. Gentleman will come on a century can he explain, in accordance with this argument, why when my party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which party?"]—the Conservative Party—raised educational expenditure by 28 per cent. between 1960 and 1964, the right hon. Gentleman's party is now raising it only by 3.8 per cent. a year, and intending to reduce that to only 2 per cent. in the seventies?
§ Mr. Benn
The right hon. Gentleman fails to get my point. The defect in British education is that we have concentrated our expenditure always on the so-called best and ignored the average. That is what is wrong. If hon. Members 531 want to know what it is that leads to deficiencies in technology, management and motivation, it is the hideous selection system which is built in. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), who has had some views to express on this, knows that if we are talking about one of the basic reasons why the British economy has not been competitive and why we have had problems in management and on the labour side in applying new technology, this is because of the elitist conception of education built into the party opposite and still entrenched in it.
The next underlying problem we will have to take up—[Interruption.]—A little law and order from the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) might help us to get somewhere. The next problem which had to be tackled, and which has been specifically my responsibility, was trying to strengthen the basic competitiveness of industry after industry. We find that in this area we are able to make use of the time which the harsh short-term measures have bought. One example is the shipbuilding industry. Without the measures we took in that industry there would have been total tragedy and mass unemployment in all areas of shipbuilding. The party opposite have moved their Motion of censure on unemployment, but they go round the country and on other issues, as the Leader of the Opposition did, they say that what they want is to endthe enormous and wasteful indiscriminate subsidies".Of what is he speaking? Upper Clyde, Swan Hunter, Harland and Wolff, Cammell Laird? The party opposite have failed in this debate because they have not spoken with the same voice.
It is not only the Leader of the Opposition who does it. Let us look at what the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. fain Macleod) says when he goes about:But we must not underestimate the difficulties.That is always a good way to start.The feather bed is soft and comfortable, and, baby, it's cold outside.That is the gritty, tough, right hon. Gentleman.But can we go on with a system which discourages enterprise?532 When right hon. Gentlemen opposite speak to their business audiences they say things that are utterly contrary to what they have said in the House today. They tell people outside that the Government should keep out of industry. Then they come to us and say, "Why have you allowed the coal mining industry to run down? Why do you not deal with this; why do you not provide more money for the aircraft industry to create further employment?"
§ Sir Douglas Glover(Ormskirk)rose—
§ Sir D. Gloverrose—
§ Sir D. Gloverrose—
§ Mr. Benn
I am not giving way.
The Leader of the Opposition has got some pretty useful statistics to use, and he has used them. The reason why what he says would not win a cheer in any development area in Britain is because people know that the Opposition do not believe in the measures that must and can put this problem right. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that this is the preparation for his eve of poll, I warn him: keep off it; it will not convince anybody; because the Opposition have consistently at every stage attacked the necessary measures to deal with unemployment.
What we are engaged in doing—this may or may not be right, but this is what lies behind our policy—is to build a partnership between government, management, scientists, technology and the trade unions to tackle these problems together. This is effective, because we have a common interest in solving these problems.
§ Mr. Peter Blaker(Blackpool, South) rose—
§ Mr. Stanley R. McMaster(Belfast, East) rose—533
§ Mr. McMaster
I am obliged to the Minister.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the shipbuilding industry. I should like to put one point to him on that subject. The Government have poured millions of pounds into the shipbuilding industry. Does the right hon. Gentleman think it right that they should, therefore, allow British Railways to place an order in Italy, where they get a 15 per cent. subsidy?
§ Mr. Benn
In addition to urging me to support the industry, the hon. Gentleman—I give him credit—now suggests that we should apply protective measures. So the Government are to intervene not only to help, but also to protect. That kind of conscientious constituency point utterly destroys the credibility of the party opposite. I am meaning to be courteous. The hon. Gentleman is right to think how the Government can help. It may be that we reject one solution or the other, but if anybody thinks that this country can tackle the problem of industrial competitiveness on the principle put forward by the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), that competition turns business men into public servants—that is his philosophy—then he has another think coming.
The fact is that in practical terms—this was not mentioned by the Opposition Front Bench spokesmen—Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, Furness, the Greenock Dock, Burnt island, the Alexandria Torpedo Factory, Netherton, Palmer's Yard and Cammell Laird, come to us to see whether we can help. U.C.S. is under new management, and with the co-operation of the unions I think that it will be viable. We got Furness in with Swan Hunter by a contribution from Government. We got Greenock in with Lower Clyde. We got Burntisland in. We got Alexandria taken over by Plessey. Can the party opposite listen to that and then say that it is our job to keep out of industry?
§ Sir D. Gloverrose—
§ Mr. Benn
No, I have only five minutes. The right hon. Member for Mitcham said that he would debate regional policy on another day. He is suggesting that he did not even understand that this is a debate about regional policy. That is what unemployment is all about.
Let us consider all the measures which have been taken to deal with these major structural changes. The development districts have been extended and made development areas. There are the special development areas and the intermediate areas in which the I.D.Cs, withing a few months, are beginning to build up. As for R.E.P., Sir John Hunter said that if it was abolished it would make his shipbuilding company bankrupt. There are the measures that we have undertaken in respect of derelict land. All these represent a consistent commitment by the Government to the problem of unemployment in the regions, and it is the commitment more than the money by which I ask us to be judged.
I understand why a constituency Member, particularly if he is a member of the Opposition, has to sound pretty gloomy, but I sometimes wonder how often the two Front Bench Opposition speakers have been to see what is happening in the development areas. I spent last Friday in South Wales at Llantrisant seeing a big international company developing there opposite the Mint. I saw the Waterton Estate being built. I saw the Morgan Crucible Company and derelict land clearance in the Swansea Valley. Although I was in an area of unemployment that was unacceptably high, everybody there was talking about the progress being made.
The reason why the party opposite has failed so lamentably with this Motion is that it has not got the mood of the areas, which is now beginning to change.
§ Sir D. Gloverrose—
§ Mr. Benn
No. I have only three minutes left, and many points to make. There was more reality in the speech of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) and he saw what is meant by trying to get development activity. Energy and local initiative is better than the professional electoral gloom of a party which pursued the balance of pay- 535 ments problem until it crumbled in their hands and has now had to change its line of attack.
§ Sir D. Gloverrose—
§ Mr. Benn
The right hon. Gentleman's proposals do not measure up to the problem here. He and his colleagues go round the country demanding cuts in public expenditure, and the development areas and industry which are receiving help to maintain employment are rightly suspicious about believing that what lies behind this is the desire to get personal taxation down even at the expense of measures to check unemployment.
There has been talk about industrial management problems and manpower planning. All this is being dealt with by the Department of Employment and Productivity, and the central question—
§ Sir D. Gloverrose—536
§ Mr. Benn
If there had been a debate a year ago it would have been, not on unemployment, but on the balance of payments, and if a Minister had said that in a year's time we would have a surplus running at £500 million, and a Budget with no tax increases and some marginal reliefs, with a rate of growth forecast of 3½ per cent., the party opposite would have said that that was typical Prime Ministerial euphoria. But that has all happened, and I say to the House that the measures which we have taken to deal with this problem will put it right. The Opposition's Motion will not only be defeated by the House, because that does not matter, but will carry no conviction whatsoever in the country.
§ Question put:—
§ That this House regrets that, as a result of the policies of Her Majesty's Government, the number of people out of work in April was the highest for that month since 1940, and that the total registered unemployed has been over half a million for 32 out of the last 33 months.
§ The House divided: Ayes 241, Noes 289.539
|Division No. 118]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Clark, Henry||Goodhart, Philip|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Clegg, Walter||Goodhew, Victor|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Cooke, Robert||Gower, Raymond|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Grant, Anthony|
|Astor, John||Cordle, John||Grant-Ferris, Sir Robert|
|Atkins, Humphrey(M't'n & M'd'n)||Costain, A. P.||Grieve, Percy|
|Awdry, Daniel||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Speithorne)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Crouch, David||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Crowder, F. P.||Gurden, Harold|
|Balniel, Lord||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Currie, G. B. H.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Bats ford, Brian||Dance, James||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)|
|Belt, Ronald||Davidson. James(Aberdeenshire.W.)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Dean, Paul||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hastings, Stephen|
|Blaker, peter||Donnelly, Desmond||Hawkins, Paul|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Drayson, G. B.||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Body, Richard||Eden, Sir John||Heseltine, Michael|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Hiley, Joseph|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Emery, Peter||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Brainc, Bernard||Errington, Sir Eric||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brewrs, John||Farr, John||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Fisher, Nigel||Holland, Philip|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir. Walter||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Fortescue, Tim||Hordern, Peter|
|Bryan, Paul||Foster, Sir John||Hornby, Richard|
|Buchanan-Smith, Atick(Angus, N&M)||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Howell, David (Guildford)|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Fry, Peter||Hunt, John|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Burden, F. A.||Gilmour, lan (Norfolk, C.)||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Glover, Sir Douglas||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Glyn, Sir Richard||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Johnson Smith, c. (E. Grinstead)|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Murton, Oscar||Smith, Dudley (W' wick & L'mington)|
|Jopling, Michael||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Neave, Alrey||Speed, Keith|
|Kimball, Marcus||Nicholas, Sir Harmar||Stainton, Keith|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Stodart, Anthony|
|King, Tom||Nott, John||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Kirk, Peter.||Onslow, Cranley||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Kitson, Timothy||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lambton, Antony||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Taylor Edward M (G' gow, Cathcar)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side|
|Lane, David||Pardoe, John)||Temple, John M.|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||parson Sir Frank Clitheroe)||John Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Peel, John||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Percival, lan||Tilney, John|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Peyton, John||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Lloyd, lan (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Pike Miss Mervyn||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pounder, Rafton||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Longden, Gilbert||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Waddington, David|
|Lubbock, Eric||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|MacArthur, lan||Prior J M L.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Mackenzie Alasdair(Ross&Crnm'ty)||Pym, Francis||Walters, Dennis|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Quennell,Miss J. M.||Ward, Christopher (Swindon)|
|McMaster, Stanley||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Weatherill, Bernard|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Renton Rt Hn. Sir David||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Maddan, Martin||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wiggin, jerry|
|Maginnis, John E.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholes||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Rildsdale, Julian||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Marten, Neil||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Maude Ansus||Robson Brown, Sir William||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Mawby, Ray||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Maxwelt-Hyslop, R. J.||Royle, Anthony||Worsley, Marcus|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Russell, Sir Ronald||Wright, Esmond|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Wylie, N. R.|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Younger, Hn. George|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Monro, Hector||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Silvester, Frederick||Mr. Jasper More|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||and Mr. Reginald Eyre.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Abse, Leo||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Edwards, William (Merioneth)|
|Albu, Austen||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Ellis, John|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||English, Michael|
|Alldritt, Walter||Callagnan, Rt. Hn. James||Ennals, David|
|Allen, Scholefield||Carmichael, Nell||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Anderson, Donald||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)|
|Archer, Peter (R'wley Regis & Tipt'n)||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Chapman, Donald||Fauids, Andrew|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Coe, Denis||Fernyhough, E.|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Coleman, David||Finch, Harold|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Conlan, Bernard||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric(lslington,E.)|
|Barnes, Michael||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Fletcher, Raymond (llkeston)|
|Barnett, Joel||CrawShaw, Richard||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Baxter, William||Cronin, John||Foley, Maurice|
|Bence, Cyril||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Ford, Ben|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Fowler, Gerry|
|Binne, John||Davies, E. Hudson (Conway)||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Dr. Ernst (Stretford)||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Gardner, Tony|
|Booth, Albert||Davies, S. O.(Merthyr)||Garrett, W. E.|
|Boston, Terence||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Ginsburg, David|
|Bottomiey, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Den, Edmund||Golding, John|
|Boyden, James||Dewar, Donald||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.|
|Bradley, Tom||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Dickens, James||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Brooks, Edwin||Doig, Peter||Gregory, Arnold|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Driberg, Tom||Grey, Charles (Durham)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brigtitside)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Brown, Bob(N'c'tie-upon-Tyne,W.)||Eadie, Alex||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.|
|Brown, R. w. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Edelman, Maurice||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Buchan, Norman||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Harming, William||Mackintosh, John P.||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as)|
|Hannan, William||Maclennan, Robert||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Harper, Joseph||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Rose, Paul|
|Hazell, Bert||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Healey, Bt. Hn. Denis||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Ryan, John|
|Henig, Stanley||Mapp, Charles||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Marks, Kenneth||Sheldon, Robert|
|Hilton, W. S.||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E|
|Hooley, Frank||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mayhew, Christopher||Short, Rt. Hn, Edward(N'c'tie-u-Tyne)|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Mellish, Rt. Hn, Robert||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mendelson, John||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Hoy, Rt. Hn. James||Mikardo, lan||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Millan, Bruce||Sillars, J.|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Sifverman, Julius|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Slater, Joseph|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Snow, Julian|
|Hunter, Adam||Molloy, William||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hynd, John||Moonman, Eric||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Moyle, Roland||Swain, Thomas|
|Jeger, George (Goolc)||MuMey, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Symonds, J. B.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Murray, Albert||Taverne, Dick|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Newens, Stan||Thornton, Ernest|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Oakes, Gordon||Tinn, James|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||O'Halloran, Michael||Tomney, Frank|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||O'Malley, Brian||Tuck, Raphael|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Oram, Albert E.||Urwin, T. W|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W. Ham, S.)||Orbach, Maurice||Varley, Eric G.|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Orme, Stanley||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Judd, Frank||Oswald, Thomas||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Kelley, Richard||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Wallace, George|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Padley, Walter||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Paget, R. T.||Weitzman, David|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Palmer, Arthur||Wellbeloved, James|
|Lawson, George||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Park, Trevor||Whitaker, Ben|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||White Mrs. Eirene|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Whitiock, William|
|Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold (Cheetham)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Pentland, Norman||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Williams, Clifford (AbertiWery)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Price, William (Rugby)||Winnie, David|
|McBride, Neil||Probert, Arthur||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|McCann, John||Randall, Harry||Woof, Robert|
|MacColl, James||Rankin, John||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|MacDermot, Niall||Rees, Merlyn|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|McGuire, Michael||Richard, Ivor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Mr. J. D. Concannon|
|Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy||and Mr. R. F. H. Dobson.|
|Mackie, John||Robertson, John (Paisley)|