HC Deb 02 May 1972 vol 836 cc182-4
13. Mr. David Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment, what proportion of employment vacancies he estimates are notified to his Department.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

Very approximately, between one-quarter and one-fifth nationally. The proportion could vary considerably in particular areas.

Mr. Mitchell

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he not agree that it is most misleading for either the public or the Treasury to place any reliance on the number of vacancies notified to his Department, since the number is substantially less than the actual number of vacancies and jobs available in the country at large?

Mr. Macmillan

It is extremely difficult to be precise about vacancies. Some jobs are filled without the vacancies being notified to anybody. Some jobs are sought by my departmental officers and people are placed in jobs without the vacancies being notified. My hon. Friend will note that the object of the employment service is to double the number of vacancies notified to the Department by employers.

Mr. Duffy

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it time to break down employment vacancies by occupations and so produce a new aggregate basis for the figures weighted according to economic significance? When the Minister of State informed my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. O'Halloran) that there were two vacancies in London for every unemployed person, might he not have specified the occupations?

Mr. Macmillan

We keep the employment statistics under review and there are various ways of analysing them. I should very much like to look at the scope for improving the analyses and making the figures more informative. It is perfectly true that there tend to be more vacancies available than the figures show. I am happy to say that there are now signs of vacancies increasing faster than redundancies.

Mr. Holland

What steps does my right hon. Friend propose to take to institute a campaign to bring the facilities of his Department more forcefully to the attention of employers?

Mr. Macmillan

A great deal of action is planned and a certain amount of progress has been achieved on implementing the programme set out in "People for Jobs published last December. The objective is that the action plan should be completed by October, 1972. I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that we are taking active steps in this direction and are so far well up to schedule.

Mr. Bob Brown

Does not the Minister agree that in the North-East of England, where there are 15 unemployed persons for every notified vacancy, even if five times the number of vacancies was notified the position would still be desperate and notification would do nothing to help?

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Gentleman must remember that the measures taken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the measures announced to the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry are showing signs of beginning to take effect.

19. Mr. Bray

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the change, both actual and seasonally adjusted, in the number of unfilled vacancies over the last three months and during the same months in 1970 and 1971.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The actual number of notified vacancies remaining unfilled in Great Britain increased over the last three months by 39,650. During the comparable period in 1971 there was a decrease of 8,393 and in 1970 an increase of 31,676.

equivalent seasonally adjusted figures, which relate only to adult vacancies, were an increase of 9,600 in 1972; and decreases of 32,500 and 6,800 in 1971 and 1970 respectively.

Mr. Bray

While thanking my hon. Friend for his almost inaudible reply, may I ask him whether he feels that these figures are truly representative of the total number of jobs vacant, bearing in mind a survey carried out in North-East Lancashire in which employers stated that fewer than 50 per cent. of them bothered to notify my hon. Friend's Department of vacancies which existed?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I am sorry if my reply was inaudible. I understand that it was very audible to right hon. and hon. Members opposite. I agree that the number of vacancies clearly is not the total number. But there are encouraging signs. I hope that with a new image in the employment service, when we have embarked upon a radical modernisation of the service, there will be means for a swift and flexible response to the requirements both of employers and of those needing jobs. This obviously of the utmost importance to the full and efficient use of the nation's human resources.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

Before the hon. Gentleman gets carried away, will he bear in mind that no amount of statistical juggling can hide the fact that unemployment in the Accrington exchange area has risen dramatically in the last three months and is considerably higher than it was in mid-January? Will the Minister bear in mind that the North-East Lancashire Development Corporation and others take the view that North-East Lancashire is in desperate need and that only full development area status will save it?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The last part of the hon. Gentleman's question is a matter for one of my right hon. Friends in another Department. However, with the employment problems that I have had to sustain in my constituency throughout my parliamentary life, I am not likely to get carried away with optimism. On the other hand, it does no service to anyone to paint too black a picture.

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