§ 1. Mr. Skinner
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest unemployment figures nationally, and by regions of the United Kingdom.
§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Robert Carr)
At 14th February the provisional number of people registered as wholly unemployed in the United Kingdom was 968,927. In addi- 716 tion 649,017 temporarily stopped workers were registered as unemployed. I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT similar information for regions.
§ Mr. Skinner
Is the Secretary of State aware that when these figures were announced last week, we read in all the newspapers that the outlook was improving? Is he also aware that three months earlier one of his ministerial colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry said that the unemployment figures would not double during the lifetime of the present Government? Now that that has happened, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can answer a more realistic question. Will he now give a guarantee that at the end of the Government's term of office the wholly unemployed will be less than half the present total?
§ Mr. Carr
I will not give any guarantee of that kind, any more than any Minister in my position has ever given any guarantee, or any more than Ministers in the previous Government undertook to double unemployment, which they succeeded in doing in their four years of office. I point out to the hon. Gentleman and the House that the seasonally adjusted number of wholly unemployed last month rose by only 1,000, which was the smallest increase in that number for well over a year. That is some cause for a belief that the recent upward trend is now levelling off, particularly when coupled with the fact that the seasonally adjusted number of vacancies also rose.
§ Mr. William Hamilton
On a point of order. I apologise for raising the point now, Mr. Speaker, but it is rather urgent. Many hon. Members have been to the Vote Office and found that there are no Order Papers available to us, so we do not know what Questions are being asked. Still less do we understand the answers.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This has put some of us in an impossible situation. I do not know whether it will be in order—[An HON. MEMBER: "They are there now."] If they are now in the Vote Office, I shall be gratified. But when hon. Members from both sides of 717 the House were at the Vote Office two minutes ago, no copies were available. If it is in order, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that the House should adjourn for 10 minutes until supplies are available to us.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
On a point of order. I confess, Mr. Speaker, that I find some difficulty in this situation. What surprises me is that you have not been informed that apparently no Order Papers are available. It is extremely difficult to follow the Questions without them. Some hon. Members have them, but what they have is the full Order Book. They are not the usual Order Papers. We do not have a list of Questions and apparently the Vote Office has run out of them, perhaps because of a strike, because they have not been printed or have not arrived. I am surprised, Mr. Speaker, that you had not been informed of this difficulty before Question Time.
§ Mr. Hamilton
May I advise you, Mr. Speaker, that not only is the Order Paper not available but that the Order Book also is not available? I inquired a minute ago and I was told that the Stationery Office is sending supplies but cannot guarantee when they will arrive. Hon. Members are sitting here virtually defenceless in the face of this situation.
§ Mr. Speaker
I think we must get on. I share the hon. Member's surprise and I should have been told about this. I will certainly go into the matter. Perhaps as we move from Question to Question, as each hon. Member asks his Question he will say what the Question is.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Further to the point of order. May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, 718 that each hon. Member reads out his Question?
§ Following is the information:
|PROVISIONAL NUMBERS REGISTERED AS UNEMPLOYED AT 14TH FEBRUARY, 1972|
|Wholly unemployed||Temporarily stopped|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||91,405||103,101|