HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc835-7
15. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the average wage payable and the average level of unemployment in each of the developing areas and in that covered by the local office of his Ministry in the Weymouth/Portland area in any convenient week in January, 1971.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Estimates of average earnings in development areas or particular local office areas are not available. Estimates of average earnings in April, 1970, for standard sub-divisions of regions were published in the January, 1971, issue of the Department's Gazette. On 11th January the rate of unemployment for the Weymouth employment exchange area was 4.4 per cent. Of the development areas, the South-Western had the highest rate of 6 per cent. and Merseyside the lowest with 4.6 per cent.

I will, with permission, circulate the full table in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. King

Is it not a fact that my constituents are drawing lower wages than many persons in development areas? Is it not all too possible to become befuddled by the expression "development area"? Will my hon. Friend pay far greater attention to areas like the one which I have indicated where wages over many years have been low, unemployment is growing, and the Government's efforts to aid them are far too few?

Mr. Smith

My hon. Friend is quite right about the low wages in that area, but a number of factors are involved. We are not complacent about that area. My Department will do everything that it can to help. The question of development areas is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. There are bound to be pockets of high unemployment outside the development areas, and, unfortunately, this is such an area.

Mr. John Fraser

Does the hon. Gentleman accept the reasoning of the Prime Minister that high unemployment is caused by inflationary wage settlements? If so, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to look at one of the speeches of his right hon. Friend in December, 1969, in which he called the Labour Government's incomes policy a disgraceful idiocy because he claimed that a wages restraint policy increased unemployment? Is not the truth of the matter that the Prime Minister's policy is not only disgraceful idiocy but disgraceful duplicity as well and a substitute for a fair and just incomes policy?

Mr. Smith

I thought that the Prime Minister's policy was very good. I should have thought that it had been proved even to hon. Gentlemen opposite that cost inflation causes unemployment.

Percentage rate of unemployment, males and females, at 11th January,1971
South Western Development Area 6.0
Merseyside Development Area 4.6
Northern Development Area 5.1
Scottish Development Area 5.5
Welsh Development Area 4.9
Weymouth (including Portland) Employment Exchange Area 4.4
The New Earnings Survey estimates of average gross weekly earnings in April, 1970, of full-time men aged 21 and over in the regions or sub-divisions which correspond roughly to the development areas, are:—
Full-time men
Region Sub-division Manual Non-Manual Total
£ £ £
South Western Western 21.9 29.8 24.5
North Western Merseyside 28.9 35.9 31.1
Northern Whole Region 25.5 33.3 27.6
North Western Furness 26.3 n.a. 28.4
Scotland Whole Region 25.2 33.8 27.7
Wales Central and Eastern Valleys 25.3 n.a. 26.9
West South Wales 27.6 31.9 28.4
North West Wales (excluding North Coast) 24.7 n.a. 29.1
South West Wales 24.4 n.a. 27.3
Central Wales n.a. n.a. n.a.
GREAT BRITAIN; 26.2 35.7 29.4
The estimates are subject to sampling error.