HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc821-2
3. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the number of redundancies notified to his Department in the engineering industry in the Bradford/Shipley area during 1970; and what is his estimate of the percentage of these that found local reemployment in the industry.

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

Comprehensive figures are not available, but redundancies involving approximately 600 employees in the engineering industry were recorded as due to occur in the Bradford/Shipley area during 1970. I regret that I am not able to estimate the percentage of these who found alternative employment locally in the engineering industry.

Mr. Wilkinson

Does my hon. Friend agree that during 1970 2,200 redundancies were declared in the wool textile trade, and that it is to the engineering industry that Bradford looks for greater diversity, future prosperity and, above all, higher earnings?

Mr. Smith

I am sure my hon. Friend is right in linking the engineering industry with Bradford. That is one of the considerations which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will bear in mind when he looks at that area.

4. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of the working population in Bradford is currently wholly unemployed, and what percentage is on short-time, respectively; and how the figure for the wholly unemployed compares with the latest national percentage of working population wholly unemployed.

Mr. Dudley Smith

The provisional wholly unemployed percentage rates at 8th February for the Bradford and Shipley travel-to-work area, and for Great Britain, were 3.5 and 3, respectively. During the week commencing 8th February, 1 per cent. of all employees in the Bradford and Shipley area were known to have worked for less than their normal week.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is my hon. Friend aware that short-time working is a serious problem in this region, that the National Economic Development Council Report on the Textile Trade forecast the loss of 23,000 jobs in the industry by 1975 and that the area has the lowest industrial earnings of any industrial area in the country? The regions with lower earnings are the rural South-West and East Anglia.

Mr. Smith

These are matters which have to be borne in mind in trying to encourage industry to the area. We are certainly not unsympathetic to the textile industry, which we realise has serious problems.

Mr. Ford

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the percentage of unemployment is not necessarily a precise or finite measurement of the economic prosperity of an area, and that the diversity prospects and structure of industry in the locality must be taken into account?

Mr. Smith

Yes, that is true, and it applies to most areas. It is a bad thing to have too many eggs in one basket.