HC Deb 28 January 1971 vol 810 cc784-5
2. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures of unemployed in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and by regions within the United Kingdom.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Robert Carr)

As the reply consists of a table of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Skinner

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the first month of this year more days have been lost through unemployment than were lost by strikes in the first 11 months of 1970? Is it not high time the Government got their priorities right, created more job opportunities, and stopped attacking the workers, who have created the biggest trade surplus in history?

Mr. Carr

There are a lot of non sequiturs in that supplementary question. Of course the present unemployment figures are serious and should be taken seriously. But it is well known that, as history shows, there is a long time lag before changes in policy reflect themselves in unemployment figures. The current level of unemployment reflects the policies of the last Government.

Mr. Bagier

Does the Minister agree that the figures will no doubt show an increase in unemployment in the regions and that the Government's policies, as outlined in yesterday's edition of The Times, seem to be having a standstill effect on new industrial opportunities going into the regions?

Mr. Carr

I would not, because the new policies, good or bad, have not yet had time to have an effect one way or the other.

Mr. Bagier

This is the effect.

Mr. Carr

It certainly cannot be the effect as yet. The first requirement to deal with the unemployment situation is to control the present level of cost inflation. There can be no doubt that the extremely rapid rise in cost levels is seriously affecting the viability of many companies and, therefore, their ability both to employ people now and to invest to provide employment opportunities in the future.

Mr. Kinnock

Is the Minister fully convinced of the efficacy of the Government's policies, such as they are, for dealing with unemployment? If he is, will he give us an undertaking that as a consequence of the policies in which he believes and which he put forward, there will be a fall in unemployment within a reasonable time—say, the next six months?

Mr. Carr

The hon. Gentleman must address questions about regional policy to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Hayhoe

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the greatest threat to employment comes from the fires of inflation which were lit by the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and her right hon. and hon. Friends?

Mr. Carr

That is indeed true. The House and the country must realise that just as one man's inflationary increase is another man's price increase, so it is another man's unemployment.

Following is the information:

Registered unemployed Percentage rate
South East 147,265 1.9
East Anglia 18,353 2.9
South Western 45,001 3.4
West Midlands 56,915 2.5
East Midlands 37,807 2.7
Yorkshire and Humberside 67,285 3.3
North Western 93,125 3.1
Northern 67,573 5.1
Scotland 115,114 5.3
Wales 42,269 4.3
Great Britain 690,707 3.0
Northern Ireland 40,853 7.9
United Kingdom 731,560 3.1