§ 14. Mr. David Mitchell
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures of unemployment and of unfilled vacancies notified to his Department for Basingstoke and its surrounding area.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
The provisional figures for 12th November show that there were 402 people unemployed and 1,072 notified unfilled vacancies in the area covered by the Basingstoke employment office.
§ Mr. Mitchell
Will my hon. Friend indicate the trend on unfilled vacancies over recent years? Will he estimate the proportion of vacancies which are notified to his Department, and how that number compares with the number of unemployed which he has just indicated?
§ Mr. Smith
Yes, Sir. This is always a difficult figure to estimate well. But the number of notified vacancies that we receive is about 25 per cent. of all unfilled vacancies. A large number do not reach the Department, but we are keen that more should. The number of notified unfilled vacancies in Basingstoke has risen by about 70 per cent. over the past year. The number of vacancies has 202 risen in my hon. Friend's area, as it has in most parts of the country.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
Although the Minister is taking great pride in the reduction in unemployment and the figure for vacancies, particularly during the last 12 months, will he look ahead and give us a guarantee that in June next year, having regard to the June figures which have been quoted, the figure will not exceed what it was under the present Government in June 1971?
§ Mr. Smith
The right hon. Gentleman knows that one cannot answer a hypothetical question of that sort. All that I can say to him—he knows this from his vast experience in my Department—is that one of the best tests of a good trend of employment is the notification of unfilled vacancies. These have been rising consistently over the past year and they continue to rise.
§ Mr. Gurden
Is my hon. Friend aware of the serious deterrent to mobility in labour—to people moving from one area to another—of council house tenants not being able to move and to get a house in another area?
§ Mr. Robert C. Brown
If the Minister is going in for this type of planted Question, will he ask his PPS to be a little more selective and next time to plant one from his hon. Friends the Members for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott), when he would get different figures?
§ Mr. Mitchell
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to suggest that a Question was planted when it was not planted?
§ Mr. Speaker
Nothing out of order has been said. The hon. Gentleman might 203 consider the report of the Select Committee on this matter. However, let us move on.