HC Deb 09 December 1971 vol 827 cc1482-4
6. Mr. Bagier

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of redundancies notified to his Department in the Northern Region for the 12-month period ended October, 1971; what is the average per month; and what was the average number of vacancies per month notified.

Mr. Bryan

During the 12-month period ended 31st October, 1971, redundancies involving 24,220 workpeople in the Northern Region were notified to my Department, the average number per month being 2,020. Over the same period the average monthly number of notified vacancies in the Northern Region was 10,138.

Mr. Bagier

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that these are fairly disastrous figures, particularly if he accepts that in the Northern Region we are no longer suffering from a dramatic rundown of mining jobs? These are notified redundancies from modern industries, many of which have come into the region in the last 10 years. Will not the hon. Gentleman accept that if we have a net result in the last 12 months, as I understand it, of 78,500 unemployed, with only 5,000 jobs available, this is a terrible situation? Will he not speak to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to see whether something special can be done, even if it means helping existing industry in the region to enlarge itself with the sort of facilities which are provided for incoming industry?

Mr. Bryan

My hon. Friend may know that the Mayor of Sunderland has been in contact with my Department and with several Cabinet Ministers concerning the situation there and has had replies from all of us. I agree, however, that the situation is a worrying one. Unemployment in the Wearside area happens to have gone down slightly in the last two months but, nevertheless, the figures are very worrying. From an examination of the type and spread of industry in the area, however, I would hope that the measures we have brought forward for increasing capital expenditure—in other words, the £100 million to the nationalised industries for bringing forward their capital work and the £150 million on infrastructure—would help the hon. Gentleman's area.

Mr. Cormack

With regard to the last part of that answer, would not my hon. Friend now consider advocating the compulsory registration of vacancies?

Mr. Bryan

That has been considered and thought about by successive Governments but I think it would be almost impossible to enforce. I hope, however, that the improvement we expect in the employment services will in itself encourage employers to register their vacancies because it will be worth while their doing so.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the redundancies are continuing at a very high level in the whole of the area? Will he not take some further action, above all, to provide new work at the site, for example, in Washington which is being vacated by a Government Department?

Mr. Bryan

I know about these problems. I hope to be in Newcastle on Wednesday and, no doubt, will hear more about them. All I can say once again is that though we believe the measures we have taken may not cure the situation straight away, there has been evidence since our last debate on unemployment—from the Financial Times survey, today's evidence from the Quarterly Review of the Bank of England and the National Institute—that reflation is beginning to have its effect, and one hopes that this will come through as quickly as possible.