HC Deb 22 February 1972 vol 831 cc1096-8
Q4. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister if the public speech of the Secretary of State for Employment in Harrogate on 6th February on unemployment represents Government policy.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend drew attention to the massive Government measures aimed at reducing unemployment generally, as well as to special help for youth employment through extra apprenticeship and training opportunities and the new scheme for employing young people on work of social value.

Mr. Skinner

I know that the Prime Minister has had a rough week, but he might have remembered that the Secretary of State for Employment also said in that speech that the Government's unemployment forecasts have gone completely haywire. How does that reconcile with the election pledges made by the Prime Minister that he would cut unemployment at a stroke? Will he consult the British nation again, or is this another example of a Cabinet Minister saying that the Prime Minister's words should not be taken too seriously?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend has constantly pointed out to the House what the hon. Gentleman knows, that inflationary wage increases cause unemployment.

Sir G. Nabarro

While dissociating myself absolutely from that ridiculous supplementary question, would my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister endeavour to press upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer that following his measures of last July there have been dramatic increases in the output of motor cars in the West Midlands but, notwithstanding this, that unemployment continues to rise in that area, and that we therefore want, at an early date, further reflationary measures?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that what has been happening in the motor industry is, again, the result of making better use of those employed in the factories. Productivity has greatly increased and so output has risen without more men being taken on. This is true now of a wide section of British industry. The remedy is that we have further investment and take advantage of markets, including the large European market. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has always indicated to the House that he must judge from time to time the extent to which any reflation may be necessary.

Mr. Bidwell

Does the Prime Minister expect that this year's Budget will make any serious inroad on the entirely unacceptable unemployment figure?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would reply that he could not anticipate his Budget—and nor can I.