HC Deb 25 January 1972 vol 829 cc1196-8
Q5. Mr. Kaufman

asked the Prime Minister whether he will reduce the number of Ministers in the Department of Trade and Industry.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Kaufman

Since the Prime Minister does not intend to dismiss the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, may we take it that he endorses the specific undertaking given by—[HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."]—I am not reading at all. May we take it that the right hon. Gentleman endorses the specific undertaking given by the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Anthony Grant), at the Dispatch Box on 7th December that unemployment under this Government would not rise to 1,158,000?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Gentleman cares to let me have the context of the matter to which he referred, I will comment on it in due course.

Mr. Onslow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the whole country has cause to be grateful to him for the action taken to end the over-representation of Manchester?

The Prime Minister

Manchester is a city of such importance that it should always he represented fully. But we cannot ensure that it is represented properly.

Mr. Orme

The Prime Minister has just referred to Manchester. Is he aware that there are many hon. Members on this side of the House who are deeply concerned about the doubling of unemployment during the last 12 months in the travel-to-work area, about the recent redundancies announced at Hawker-Siddeley and about the threatened closure of the Churchill machine tool factory, a firm of great repute in the North-West? What do the Prime Minister and his Government intend to do to preserve the skills that have been created in this industrial area and to give full employment to the people who need it?

The Prime Minister

I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would recognise that this was one of the specific problems with which I dealt yesterday in my speech. I pointed out to some of his hon. Friends, who expect every development in industry to go either to Scotland or to the North-East, that there are now equal problems in Manchester and the North-West.

Mr. Gardner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in that part of the North-West forming the constituency of South Fylde he is looked upon as a Prime Minister who can be relied upon to deal with the legacy of ills, including unemployment, which has troubled our part of the world?

Mr. Arthur Davidson

Is the Prime Minister aware that, up the road in North-East Lancashire, he is not so warmly regarded, and that one of his Government's most remarkable achievements has been to produce a staggeringly high rate of unemployment in an area where previously unemployment was well below the national average? Should not the Prime Minister admit that his capricious abandonment of investment grants was a ghastly mistake for which the people of Lancashire are paying?

The Prime Minister

I cannot accept that thesis.

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