HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc201-3
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 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. Smith

Yes, Sir. That is another question. It is recognised and is being examined in all the questions that we have under consideration concerning mobility.

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. Smith

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. I had nothing whatever to do with the putting down of the Question. It so happens that my hon. Friend the Minister of State and I do not have a PPS at present.

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 consider the report of the Select Committee on this matter. However, let us move on.