HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc196-8
8. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many unemployed there are now in West Dorset ; and how many of these are non-industrials.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Based on the provisional figures for 12th November, there were 560 people unemployed in the area covered by the Bridport, Dorchester and Sherborne employment offices. Of these, 463 were last employed in industries outside the manufacturing sector.

Mr. Dighy

Is my hon. Friend aware of the need that there is for office jobs for all age groups in this part of the world? Would he make representations to his right hon. Friends to move more branches of Government Departments to this area, which has excellent facilities for them?

Mr. Smith

I know my hon. Friend's keen concern on behalf of his constituents. That area will be considered together with many others which have made representations that they should be considered in respect of dispersal. We have to remember the need for operational efficiency and general regional policy. One of the difficulties in my hon. Friend's constituency is that many of those registered as unemployed and who were hitherto white-collar workers have moved into the area on retirement between 55 and 60 years of age and, alas, employers are often reluctant to take them on.

13. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are registered as unemployed in the Harlow, Epping and Chingford areas.

Mr. Dudley Smith

The provisional figures for 12th November show that 471 people were unemployed in the area covered by the Harlow employment office, 92 in the Epping area, and 1,479 in Leyton and Walthamstow, which includes Chingford.

Mr. Tebbit

Will my hon. Friend confirm the impression of most of my constituents that unemployment is now lower than it was in June 1970, that job vacancies are higher and that, in all respects, the employment and job opportunity position is a darned sight better now than it was three and a half years ago?

Mr. Smith

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. [Interruption.] However much the Opposition may not like it, it is true. The current unemployment rate in my hon. Friend's area is about half the national average, and notified vacancies for November in the three areas taken together were one quarter higher than they were in November last year. The position continues to improve.

Mr. Heffer

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that, while the unemployment rate may well be dropping in Epping, in areas such as Merseyside unemployment is still very high? Over 40,000 workers are unemployed in the Merseyside area. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that because of the lowering of the rate of house building, particularly in the private sector, there is now a further increase in unemployment among building operatives on Merseyside?

Mr. Smith

No one would deny that there are still pockets of difficulty, including the hon. Gentleman's area, but I am sure that he would be the first to agree that the Government have done an excellent job in reducing the rate of unemployment in this country.