§ 6. Mr. Robert Atkins
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current rate of unemployment in the Preston travel-to-work area.
§ Mr. Jim Lester
On 10 April, the provisional unemployment rate in the Preston travel-to-work area was 6.8 per cent.
§ Mr. Atkins
Is my hon. Friend aware that, while this figure is not acceptable, it is not as high as it was under the previous Labour Government? Will he recognise the efforts of the Preston borough council, the Central Lancashire Development Corporation, the county council and his own Department in trying to retrieve the position by encouraging more investment in private industry?
§ Mr. Lester
I thank my hon. Friend for that question. Preston is typical of many areas that are necessarily going through structural change but approaching it in an imaginative and co-operative fashion. That is the best way of solving the problem of unemployment.
§ Mr. Stan Thorne
Will not the Minister confirm that the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins) has misrepresented the position and that unemployment is now higher in the Preston travel-to-work area than it has been for 10 years?
§ Mr. Lester
When I answered the main question I was talking about Preston as a whole and not its halves.