HC Deb 12 July 1977 vol 935 cc198-9
2. Mr. Anthony Grant

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the number and percentage of unemployed in the Greater London travel-towork area in June 1973 and in June 1977; and how many of these were school-leavers in each case.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Grant)

At June 1973, 54,055 people were registered as unemployed in the Greater London area and the unemployment rate was 1.4 per cent. The corresponding figures for June 1977 were 157,011 and 4 per cent.

The number of unemployed school leavers in June 1973 was abnormally low following the raising of the minimum school leaving age in September 1972. Also, in 1973, summer school leavers registered at the end of term and so missed the June count. These factors affect the comparison between the figures of 112 school leavers in June 1973 and 6,162 in June 1977.

Mr. Anthony Grant

Does the Minister agree that the dramatic change in the figures in the last four years is deeply depressing, particularly to Londoners? Does it not indicate that the Government's regional policies are now quite cock-eyed? Why cannot the Minister ease the policy on industrial development certificates much further and abolish office development permits? What will the Government do to encourage small firms to take up unemployed workers?

Mr. John Grant

I agree that it is depressing, but I do not draw the same conclusions as the hon. Gentleman about regional policy. In terms of youth unemployment generally, the hon. Gentleman will be aware of the measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, which will be of considerable benefit to young people in London and in the rest of the country. But the unemployment rate in London is far below the average level throughout the country.

Mr. Kinnock

Does my hon. Friend agree that if the idea exists that jobs in London have been lost in large numbers to other parts of the country. particularly to the depressed areas, that idea is entirely false? The problem of unemployment is general. Is my hon. Friend aware that the problem of unemployment in London or elsewhere—we care as much about unemployment in London as in other parts of the country—will be resolved only by radical measures for the whole economy, and not by attempting to win votes out of the slow drift of jobs from London to other areas?

Mr. Grant

I accept what my hon. Friend said. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has announced a number of measures which should be of particular benefit to the inner city areas.

Mr. Hayhoe

Will the hon. Gentleman take particular account of representations from the Community Service Volunteers that the schemes for the 16 to 18-yearolds, which we welcome, should be adapted to include an element of older people, to achieve a better balance to the proposals? That suggestion has much to commend it.

Mr. Grant

I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of my hon. Friend who deals with these matters.

Mr. Henderson

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the figures for Scotland were anything like the figures for London there would be jubilation in the streets and people would be extremely pleased?

Mr. Grant

That is obviously so. It follows from what I said earlier.