HC Deb 12 July 1982 vol 27 cc635-6
12. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many new jobs have been created in the South Yorkshire area over each of the past three years; and what proposals he has to create more jobs in the immediate future.

Mr. Norman Lamont

Figures are not recorded for the number of new jobs created. The most important contribution the Government can make to job creation is fostering an economic climate in which industry can thrive. To this end we will continue to work to reduce inflation, to bring interest rates down and to promote competition.

Mr. Wainwright

Does the Minister not realise that no matter what an area is designated, unless more jobs are produced than the number being lost, it is of no value? Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the economy of South Yorkshire is slowly dying and that industrialists are becoming more and more frustrated because they cannot create jobs and instead are forced to declare redundancies? Is he not aware, further, that the employment rate in the Mexborough and district area in my constituency is running at 20 per cent. plus? When will the Government take steps to reduce the number of unemployed and create more jobs for our people?

Mr. Lamont

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that merely designating an assisted area will not resolve an unemployment problem. It is not possible to resolve it in that way. In Yorkshire and Humberside, no less than 40 per cent. of the area still has assisted area status. Mexborough was updated to a development area in 1979. Thirty-nine projects in South Yorkshire have received regional aid, creating 4,900 jobs. Regional aid will not resolve the problem by itself.

Mr. Hooley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the largest segment of population in South Yorkshire is in Sheffield? How many additional jobs will be created by the proposed merger of Johnson Firth Brown and BSC River Don, and why are the unions concerned not being consulted about the merger, which they fear will cause job losses and not job increases?

Mr. Lamont

I cannot comment on the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, because that is a matter between the companies concerned. Although, regrettably, unemployment in Sheffield is high, it is below the average for intermediate areas as a whole.

Mr. Wainwright

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's replies, I beg to give notice that I shall seek an early opportunity to raise the matter on the Adjournment of the House.