HC Deb 04 July 1978 vol 953 cc225-6
16. Mr. Radice

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the level of unemployment in the Northern Region.

Mr. Golding

No, Sir. Unemployment in the Northern Region is far, far too high. That is why the whole region has development or special development area status so that the full range of assistance under the Industry Act is available to help create new jobs and safeguard existing ones. In the short term, unemployment has been reduced by the Government's special measures, which have so far helped 72,000 persons in the Northern Region.

Mr. Radice

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's answer. Is he aware that in recent weeks, despite all that the Government have done, there have been too many announcements of closures and redundancies involving thousands of workers in the Northern Region, including Howard Rotavator in my constituency? In conjunction with his colleagues in the Department of Industry, will he take another look at the situation in the Northern Region to ascertain what can be done?

Mr. Golding

I share my hon. Friend's concern about Howard Rotavator and his general concern about redundancies. The only hope that my Department can offer is through the temporary employment subsidy. The company is well aware that that is open to it.

Mr. Anthony Grant

I know that the Minister wants to be fair. Will he be good enough to tell the House—the figures are obviously in his brief—how the present unemployment figures in the Northern Region contrast with those in 1973?

Mr. Golding

The figures are higher than they were in 1973.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Is my hon. Friend aware that both unions and management at ICI on Teesside are grateful to the Department for the efforts that it has been making to help overcome the problems created by the shortage of instrument artificers at the plant on Teesside? Is he yet in a position to tell the House whether he has been able to make any progress to stop further shutdowns of plant and more people being thrown out of work?

Mr. Golding

My hon. Friend the Minister of State is making strenuous efforts to avert the difficulties with which we are faced. As late as last evening he was having informal talks with the unions concerned.