HC Deb 23 June 1977 vol 933 cc1727-8
14. Mr. John Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are currently employed in Northern Ireland; and how this compares with 10, 15 and 20 years ago.

20. Mr. Ogden

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the most recent unemployment figures in Northern Ireland, giving male unemployment figures for townships with at least 15,000 population.

Mr. Concannon

The results of the census of employment taken in June of each year show that, in 1976, 491,600 persons were employed in Northern Ireland, an increase of 25,800 over the number employed 10 years ago and an increase of 51,000 over the number employed 15 years ago. Strictly comparable figures are not available prior to 1959, but a crude comparison with 1956 indicates an increase of 45,100.

As the answer to the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) is in the form of a tabular statement, I shall, with permission, circulate it in the Official Report.

Mr. Ellis

Can my hon. Friend say what is being done about youth unemployment? Is it true that the position is likely to be alleviated once we get over the birth rate bulge and that the figures will then follow the birth rate in this country?

Mr. Concannon

The bulge in the birth rate in the rest of the United Kingdom took place in 1960 and is now showing itself in the number of school leavers. The bulge in Northern Ireland has always been a bulge in Northern Ireland. The birth figures there per thousand population are well above those of the rest of the United Kingdom and create an unemployment situation in which we have to find one-third more jobs for school leavers than we have to find elsewhere.

I would tell my hon. Friend that various schemes for countering unemployment among young people are going on with great speed. We have 10 times the amount of training processes in Northern Ireland that we have in the rest of the United Kingdom. At present, the number of places for the young is five short of 4,000.

Mr. Bradford

Is the Minister satisfied with the contribution of the Northern Ireland Development Agency? Can he give some instances of employment created by the Agency?

Mr. Concannon

I shall never be satisfied with the unemployment situation in Northern Ireland until it has come down to a level that equates with the rest of the United Kingdom. NIDA has done, and is doing, a practical job, not only in creating jobs in Northern Ireland but in saving a lot of jobs. I give as one instance a NIDA factory creating 300 jobs in an area of high unemployment in Belfast. That is a great contribution.

Mr. Freud

When the Minister realises his ambition of reducing the level of unemployment in Northern Ireland to that in the rest of the country, will he bear in mind the number of people employed specifically in security in the Province?

Mr. Concannon

Yes. Unfortunately, well over 30,000 people are employed in security in the Province. I should like to see unemployment figures without that increase.

Following is the statement:

The most recent source of information is the unemployment statistics for 9th June 1977. At that date the number of males registered as unemployed at employment services offices in townships with a population of over 15,000 was as follows:

Bangor 695
Belfast 14,193
Carrickfergus 553
Larne 533
Lisburn 936
Newtownards 713
Ballymena 1,033
Coleraine 1,234
Lurgan 1,180
Portadown 739
Londonderry 3,909