HC Deb 17 July 1979 vol 970 cc1276-8
2. Mr. Kilroy-Silk

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his forecast of the number of young people who will be unemployed in the North-West, on Merseyside, in Kirkby and in Ormskirk at the end of 1979.

Mr. Jim Lester

My right hon. Friend has no such forecast, nor is it the Government's practice to issue this kind of forecast.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is the Minister really saying that he has not had any discussions with the Secretary of State for Industry about the likely increase in unemployment in Ormskirk, which will result from the measures being announced today? Is that not a disgraceful admission which shows a cavalier and callous disregard for the future of young people in my constituency? Is it not also a sign of the Minister's own incompetence?

Mr. Lester

It would help the hon. Member's constituency if, instead of making rather wild statements in the House, he actually obtained the co-operation of trade unionists in Kirkby to allow the local authority there to take its full part in the youth opportunities programme. It is not able to do so at present, and it cannot spend its budget.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Does my hon. Friend recognise the the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) does not represent the North-West as much as he believes? Many hon. Members who represent North-West constituencies recall that under the Labour Government unemployment rose and every constituency in the area was affected.

Mr. Lester

I thank my hon. Friend for those remarks. Under the previous Administration unemployment in the North-West rose by 40,000. The Government are taking the problem seriously. My right hon. Friend and I visited the area for three days, which was the longest ministerial visit that has been made under any Administration.

Mr. Golding

Does the Minister recognise that the slashing of regional grants will add substantially to youth unemployment, not only in the North-West but elsewhere? The withdrawal of the special temporary employment programme for many towns will bring great hardship to the many young people who are unemployed in those towns.

Mr. Lester

I do not wish to anticipate my right hon. Friend's statement, but the hon. Gentleman may find that some of the measures that he will refer to will help those areas of high unemployment.

Forward to