HC Deb 22 July 1980 vol 989 cc262-4
9. Mr. Dabs

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are currently unemployed in the inner London area compared with one year ago.

Mr. Jim Lester

For inner London, taken as the employment office areas in the Inner London Education Authority area, the numbers registered as unemployed at July 1980 and July 1979 were 89,682 and 73,208, respectively. The July 1980 figure is provisional.

Mr. Dubs

Is the Minister aware that in the South-East as a whole, according to the figures published today, unemployment is 30 per cent. above the figure for last year and that unemployment among school leavers is 55 per cent. above last year's figure? Does he accept that behind the figures there is the reality of a generation of young people who have been rejected by this society?

Mr. Lester

I do not accept that the reality is that society has rejected these young people. I accept that we must deal with an enormous bulge in the birth rate in the next four to five years. We cannot expand industrial production to match the birth rate. That is why we have expanded the youth opportunities programme and the training programmes.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Does my hon. Friend accept that, even though the increase in unemployment in London is distressing, young people in London are better placed than many people in the Midlands and the North? Since unemployment is likely to take up a large part of Prime Minister's Question Time, would it not serve the House if the Leader of the Opposition came in at the end of Prime Minister's Questions, rather than at the beginning?

Mr. Lester

I support what my hon. Friend says. In London there are 29,062 vacancies advertised in jobcentres, and that represents only one-third of the vacancies.

Mr. John Grant

Do Ministers realise that they may have succeeded beyond all expectations in creating one nation—one nation that is now undivided by the misery of mass unemployment? Is he aware that that extends to London and the South-East? Is he aware also that in Islington unemployment is 16 per cent. up on last month and that more than 9,000 people are registered as unemployed? When will the Secretary of State stop posing as the "Mr. Clean" of the Cabinet and realise that if he is to cleanse himself he must publicly dissociate himself from the Government's policies and quit the Cabinet?

Mr. Lester

Nobody underestimates the seriousness of the unemployment figures. One would think, from the figures given, that we had forgotten that 22 million people are still in work.