HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc826-7
7. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many jobs have been lost in England and Wales in the last six months; how many new jobs have been provided; and what estimate has been made of the net gain or loss in the next 12 months.

Mr. Dudley Smith

My Department, as was the case with the last Administration, has no way of supplying a complete record of jobs provided or lost. Employment prospects are dependent upon the prospects for output, and the hon. Member would not expect me to anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget statement.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Ministers in the Conservative Administration before 1964 provided certain figures? Why is he so coy in saying that he cannot provide the figures? Are not thousands of jobs being lost—far more than are being provided? These figures are a damning indictment of the lack of clarity in the Government's regional policies both in England and Wales and in Scotland.

Mr. Smith

No, Sir; I cannot accept that. To calculate the jobs provided and the jobs lost over regular comprehensive employment would mean a far bigger exercise than my Department could undertake without enormous difficulty. Exactly the same problem faced the Labour Administration, and any effort that has been made in that direction in the past has proved to be faulty.

Mr. Hiley

When my hon. Friend looks at this problem, would he consider whether it is merely a case of jobs being transferred from one area to another due to feather-bedding of those industries which have been provided in the development areas?

Mr. Smith

I would not entirely accept that. Certainly everybody recognises the difficulties in the development areas. The great thing to do is to get accurate figures of unemployment and of employment trends. We can work out what are the difficulties and then provide the remedies, as the present Government are doing.

Mr. Gwynoro Jones

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that a recent Written Reply from his Department showed that redundancies in Wales since November are averaging around 1,000 a month? Is he not further aware that there is mounting concern in Wales that industrial inquiries are at their lowest for four years and that week by week more and more firms are abandoning investment proposals for Wales?

Mr. Smith

This is one of the reasons why we are giving special attention to Wales. We do not underestimate the problems there.