HC Deb 29 July 1975 vol 896 cc1476-7
3. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the percentage increase in unemployment nationally in the six months from October 1974 to March 1975.

Mr. Foot

It was 19, seasonally adjusted and excluding school leavers and adult students.

Mr. Farr

That is a tragically high figure. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider parts of the country, such as certain areas of the East Midlands, where the rate of unemployment increased nearly three times that amount in the six-month period? Will he consider the idea of establishing some form of community project to assist school leavers which is organised by local authorities and which has Government prompting?

Mr. Foot

It is certainly true, as the hon. Gentleman says, that it is a tragically high figure. The rise has been very bad in the East Midlands. I hope that the measures to which my hon. Friend has already referred, and the measures that we shall be announcing, will assist in some degree in dealing with the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question.

Mr. Frank Allann

Is not something far more ambitious required—namely, a national recovery programme? Are not Germany and France rightly considering expanding their economies whereas we are being pressed to contract our economy through substantial cuts in public expenditure? Does my right hon. Friend agree that in terms of a national recovery programme it would cost little more to keep a man at work than to pay him unemployment benefit, given the loss of income tax revenue?

Mr. Foot

I hope my hon. Friend will agree that our transitional employment subsidy proposals, even though I appreciate that they go only a small way along the road he is suggesting, will be a good start. However, I believe that other measures are required. As regards the general situation, although the unemment figure increased during the period mentioned in the Question and is extremely severe at 19 per cent., during the same period most other countries saw an increase of approximately 40 per cent.—for example, the United States, France and Denmark. I accept that they have somewhat different situations, but certainly we welcome many of the measures that they propose to take.

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