HC Deb 02 May 1972 vol 836 cc187-8
18. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many redundancies in the West Midlands have been notified to his Department in the past two years.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Some 58,500 redundancies have been notified as due to occur in the West Midlands during the two-year period 1st April, 1970, to 31st March, 1972, inclusive.

Mr. Price

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his answer will cause widespread dismay in the West Midlands? Does not he understand that the feeling there is that he and his Government have brought to the most prosperous region in Britain a degree of unemployment which has not existed in living memory? If that is to be the prospect under this Administration for a region as prosperous as that, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman exaggerates his case. I have just as much interest in the prosperity of the West Midlands as he has. I am cautiously optimistic about its future, having seen the number of job vacancies now coming along. The hon. Gentleman may have seen in one of the national newspapers this morning an authoritative writer saying that the number of new jobs being created in the country is starting to exceed redundancies for the first time in two years as signs grow of a revival in business confidence.

Sir G. Nabarro

Has my hon. Friend seen the figure published last week showing that one in four motor cars sold in Britain is an imported foreign car and that the decline in the sale of British cars is due to increased prices, grave dislocation in production and endless strikes in the motor industry? Will my hon. Friend apply himself to this disgraceful behaviour?

Mr. Smith

This is perhaps a little wide of the original Question, although undoubtedly there is considerable merit in what my hon. Friend says. I am glad to say that at the moment there appears to be a resuscitation in the car and component industries throughout the West Midlands which will add to employment prospects.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that confidence in this Government in the West Midlands, and in Coventry especially, is now at an all-time low, particularly since this is supposed to be a traditional seed-bed for industry for the rest of the country? Does the hon. Gentleman also accept that his cautious optimism is not enough for my constituents?

Mr. Smith

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman goes to the West Midlands as much as I do—

Mr. Huckfield

Every week-end.

Mr. Smith

Certainly on my recent visits I have found anything but the atmosphere of which the hon. Gentleman speaks. There is growing confidence in the ability of this Government to get on top of the country's economic problems.