§ 5. Mr. Peter Morrison
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many working days have been lost during the last 12 months which would not otherwise have been lost but for unemployment.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Grant)
Multiplying the number of unemployed by the estimated number of days worked per year by those in employment gives very approximately 300 million days.
§ Mr. Morrison
Does the Minister agree that that is a rather alarming figure? Will he tell the House what he expects the future trend to be with regard to unemployment and whether he expects more or fewer working days to be lost during the next 12 months as a result of unemployment?
§ Mr. Grant
First, I agree that it is an alarming figure—I think that the whole House would accept that—but I do not 1091 think that the hon. Gentleman would expect me to speculate on the level of unemployment ahead of us beyond what has already been said by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and, indeed, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. Lawson
Is the Minister aware that academic studies have shown that the higher the level of unemployment benefit, the higher the level of unemployment? Therefore, will the Government give further consideration to the bringing of unemployment benefit into tax as a means, among other things, of reducing the level of unemployment?
§ Mr. Newens
Is it not a fact that if the cries by the Opposition for cuts in public expenditure were implemented this would greatly increase the present levels of unemployment and make the whole situation even more intolerable?