HC Deb 04 November 1980 vol 991 cc1094-5
Mr. Straw

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the level of unemployment, at the latest available date, for (a) Blackburn and (b) the United Kingdom.

Mr. Jim Lester

At 9 October, the provisional numbers of people registered as unemployed in the Blackburn employment office area and in the United Kingdom were 4,716 and 2,062,866, respectively. The unemployment rates were 9.8 and 8.5 per cent.

Mr. Straw

Is the Minister aware that unemployment in Blackburn has been rising twice as fast as the national average, that it has virtually doubled since Christmas, and that it is likely to rise again as grants under the temporary short time working compensation scheme come to an end next month and further redundancies feed their way through into the unemployment figures? How many months or years will it be before unemployment in Blackburn drops to the level that it was in May 1979?

Mr. Lester

No Minister is in the job of forecasting levels of unemployment, either for the whole country or for areas such as Blackburn. We want, and hope to see, things happening in Blackburn that will create new jobs. For example, Mullard is creating new jobs in producing video discs, using new technology. I suspect that the level of unemployment in Blackburn will drop when, as my right hon. Friend said, we achieve an upturn in the economy which will be shared by all the regions.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Meanwhile, will my hon. Friend bring the figure of 9.8 per cent. for the Blackburn area to the attention of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry when he is considering whether to prolong the intermediate development area status for that area?

Mr. Lester

That is a reasonable point. I undertake to do what my hon. and learned Friend asks.

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