HC Deb 22 March 1977 vol 928 cc1079-80
Q4. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to visit the North-West.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Hoyle

If my right hon. Friend went to the North-West would he explain to the people there the valuable aid that they have received from this Labour Government, in that the temporary employment subsidy has enabled many firms to survive and that the textile industry, under the new Multi-Fibre Arrangement that the Government are pressing for, has a valuable and viable economic future? Would he also explain that all that would be thrown away if the Opposition came to power?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. The temporary employment subsidy has helped more people in the North-West than in any other region—54,000 in all. The number of people trained under the training opportunities scheme has also risen substantially.

We are not satisfied with the operation of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement, which has to be renegotiated internationally. I explained to President Carter that we would want to see some changes in it, although some of the member States are not so interested.

As for what would happen in certain unlikely events, I assure my hon. Friend that he need have no fears about that. I think that normal service will be resumed pretty soon.

Mr. Prior

When the Prime Minister goes to Preston will he take with him the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson)? Will they both explain, on a platform there, the speech that the right hon. Member for Huyton made at Preston during the last General Election campaign, when he said that to have 1 million people unemployed would be quite intolerable to a Labour Government? The total is now nearly 1.4 million.

The Prime Minister

I do not complain that the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) keeps referring to that point, because it should be and is of concern to the whole House and the country, but the matter goes wider than that. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is of concern to the whole Western industrialised world. At the Downing Street summit next month I hope to direct the attention of all leaders of the free world to this problem, to see what we can do about it, especially in relation to young people who, in the United States, for example, make up nearly half of the total unemployed. I am glad that the problem is not as bad as that in this country but we have a serious problem and it must be dealt with on not only a national but a world basis.

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