HC Deb 17 November 1981 vol 13 cc154-5
12. Mr. Pitt

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current rate of unemployment in Greater London.

Mr. Peter Morrison

At 8 October the rate of unemployment in Greater London was 8.9 per cent.

Mr. Pitt

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Does he accept the report of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which states that each unemployed person costs the Government £4,500? If he does, does he accept also that a policy of economic regeneration, including investment in jobs rather than the dole, would be a far better investment of Government money?

Mr. Morrison

I am delighted that representatives of the Liberal Party are present in the Chamber. During the debate on the Queen's Speech last week there was one occasion when for three-quarters of an hour only one Liberal Member was present in the Chamber. It is interesting that Liberals are now taking an interest in employment. I do not necessarily accept the report to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Reflation creates a loss of jobs.

Mr. Jessel

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the greatest threats to employment in Greater London consists of the heavy rates that are levied on employers by the Greater London Council?

Mr. Morrison

Yes. There can be no doubt about that. There is some evidence that firms are moving out of, London because of the increased rates in the London area.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Government do something for the inner city areas of London, such as Willesden, in which unemployment has doubled in the past 12 months? Is he aware that the Guiness company, a large firm in my constituency, has 250 redundancies in the pipeline? I understand that Heinz has 200 redundancies in prospect and that Associated Automation will close with the loss of 500 jobs. Will the hon. Gentleman take some new initiatives?

Mr. Morrison

There are already two inner city partnerships in London, with a budget of £24 million this year. There is also an urban development corporation, with a budget of £65 million. With respect, I cannot comment specifically on the hon. Gentleman's constituency, because I do not know.