HC Deb 06 November 1980 vol 991 cc1462-4
Q4. Mr. Race

asked the Prime Minister what are the advantages of her policy of advocating the migration of labour from one region of the United Kingdom to another.

The Prime Minister

Some mobility is essential if the labour market is to function properly; that has always been true and is still true today.

Mr. Race

Does the Prime Minister accept that migration of labour from one part of the United Kingdom to another does nothing to reduce the cost of unemployment, currently running at £440 million for every 100,000 increase in unemployment? Does she recognise that it is precisely to those parts of England—and particularly South-East England which voted Conservative at the last general election that the people will be migrating? Does she also realise that people in South-East England. particularly unskilled workers, will be losing their jobs perhaps because of migrants from other industries and other regions?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Member comes from a constituency very near to mine, he will be interested to know that the migration between the regions in the years 1978–79 was away from greater London to the extent of about 56,000 people. It so happens that skilled people have always been used to moving in order to seek work. It can both reduce unemployment and help those employers who want skilled labour if people are prepared to move to where the jobs are.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the 1930s many thousands of people left Wales for the West Midlands, where they made a great success of their lives and careers, and are highly respected?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Soley

With regard to the Prime Minister's remarks about people moving to the South-East, does she realise that they have great difficulty in obtaining housing because house building has already been severely hit in both the public and private sectors by the actions of her own Government?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will find that the new Housing Act gives very considerable help to those who are seeking work.

Mr. McCrindle

Will the Prime Minister agree that in order to achieve mobility of labour it is necessary to make some progress concerning the transferability of pension rights under private pension schemes? Are the Government seized of the need to make progress on this front, and is she able to tell the House that we shall shortly be receiving the recommendations of the Occupational Pensions Board?

The Prime Minister

I am aware that there are changes which still need to be made to ensure complete transferability. The matter is still being studied. I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

Q5. Mr. Barry Jones

asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for 6 November.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner).

Mr. Jones

Why must the right hon. Lady cut public expenditure while Britain slides into the deepest recession since the 1930s? Why does she callously sanction a massive rise in unemployment while Britain's industries collapse in ruins?

The Prime Minister

I have repeated several times in the House that the present public expenditure review is to hold the totals of public expenditure to those already published for next year. However much one may wish to spend more, particularly on projects that all hon. Members favour, the fact is that public expenditure has to be financed by the private sector. Every increasing burden that we make on the private sector makes it more difficult for that sector to cut its costs and remain competitive.

Sir John Eden

While there is still widespread support for the Government's economic policy—[Hon. Members: "Where?"]—will my right hon. Friend ensure that her Government take vigorous action to reduce the size of central and local government bureaucracy?

The Prime Minister

That is most certainly our objective. Since this Government have been in power the size of central Government has been reduced by about 35,000 people. Local authorities have now embarked upon a policy of greatly reducing over-manning. The figures published for the last quarter were the best ever.