§ 3. Mr. Barry Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the rise in unemployment since May 1979.
§ Mr. Jones
Is it not a fact that Britain's unemployment will soon reach the 2 million mark, with ever-increasing pressures on the vulnerable regions and localities of the country? Will the right hon. Gentleman fight in the Cabinet against the monetarist policy, and for fundamental changes in policy on unemployment?
§ Mr. Prior
The so-called monetarist policies that we are following are exactly the same as those followed by the previous Government. We should always be careful before committing ourselves to forecasts about the level of unemployment because one forecast produced by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) suggested that by the end of 1979 the previous Government would have reduced unemployment to 700,000.
§ Mr. Bulmer
Will my right hon. Friend confirm the warnings given by the last Government during the winter of discontent that wage and salary increases 197 substantially in excess of output will lead to rapidly rising unemployment?
§ Mr. Radice
Do the Government understand that the situation in the Northern region is deteriorating dramatically and there are fewer and fewer vacancies with more and more unemployed people and redundancies every week? Does it need a national disaster to make the Government change their policy?
§ Mr. Prior
The position in the North, and particularly the North-East, is serious. However, one of the strange things is that there are still vacancies in that part of the world for a number of jobs, such as work on the railways. I hope that the hon. Member will do all that he can to see that such vacancies are filled.
§ Mr. Gordon Wilson
Does the Secretary of State accept that unemployment is increasing very rapidly in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North of England? In the absence of any positive efforts by the Government to do something about this is he aware that there is a prevailing view that this Government were elected by the South for the benefit of the South?
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
Is it not a fact that unemployment doubled in the five years of the last Labour Government and did that not demonstrate that Socialist remedies for this evil simply do not work? Will not my right hon. Friend agree that the only hope for those on the dole is a revival of the private sector, based on incentive and opportunity?
§ Mr. Varley
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what measures he has taken since last May to reduce unemployment?
§ Mr. Varley
Is it not true that the right hon. Gentleman has no more confidence in Government economic and industrial policies than we have? Is it not about time he started to stand up and fight for the unemployed instead of allowing the drift towards the 2 million unemployed mark by next winter?