HC Deb 21 October 1971 vol 823 cc895-6
Q2. Mr. Carter

asked the Prime Minister if he will now make an official visit to Northfield.

The Prime Minister

I have no plans to do so, but I visited the Birmingham area on 30th September and 1st October.

Mr. Carter

Is the Prime Minister aware that if he ultimately accepts one of my many invitations to come to Northfield he is likely to be met by an army of unemployed? Is he further aware that in September unemployment in Birmingham rose for the tenth month in succession, and that many of these unemployed were formerly employed in industries which were awarded the Queen's Prize for service to the nation? What have these people done to deserve their plight, and why does he remain so indifferent to their problems?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman knows that the last statement is absolutely untrue. That is demonstrated by the fact that during the Recess I spent two days in the Birmingham area, even though I was not able to visit his constituency. The most recent unemployment figures included 10,000 temporarily stopped, about a quarter of whom were losing time because of trade disputes. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the rapid decrease in the number of school-leavers without jobs.

Sir G. Nabarro

Will the Prime Minister recognise at once that the Northfield division of Birmingham overwhelmingly employs motor workers and that the prospects in the motor trade today are brighter than they have been at any time since the end of the war, with record orders—all of which is likely to militate against any increase in unemployment?

The Prime Minister

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. That, in part, is a result of the changes made by this Government in abolishing hire-purchase controls and reducing purchase tax.

Mr. Harold Wilson

When the right hon. Gentleman spent his two days in the West Midlands, did he address himself to the number of wholly unemployed there apart from the temporarily stopped? Did he in any of his speeches there draw to the attention of his hearers the fact that unemployment in the West Midlands today among males is more than one-and-a-half times as great as it was in Scotland when the Labour Government left office?

The Prime Minister

Unemployment in Scotland had risen by 70 per cent, during the right hon. Gentleman's Administration. I did more than that; I discussed with the Planning Council in Birmingham the problems of the whole of the West Midlands, and those problems are now being actively pursued.