HC Deb 17 June 1982 vol 25 cc1077-8
9. Mr. Home Robertson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects his policies to result in a reduction in unemployment.

Mr. Wakeham

The monthly rate of increase in unemployment has slowed considerably in recent months. Vacancies have been higher this year, short-time working has fallen sharply and overtime working has increased. However, progress will be faster the more rapidly we bring down inflation and secure greater responsibility in wage bargaining.

Mr. Home Robertson

The Minister has answered every question except that which is on the Order Paper.

Now that even official unemployment figures are well over 3 million again, and since recently published figures show that it costs about £5,000 to keep a man on the dole, will the Minister take this opportunity to explain his cussed determination to go on spending over £15,000 million every year on the maintenance of misery?

Mr. Wakeham


Mr. Foulkes


Mr. Wakeham

The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that an increase in expansionary, monetary and fiscal policy would produce greater economic growth, when all the evidence is that it feeds through into higher inflation. Higher inflation inhibits growth and damages the longterm prospects of reducing inflation.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that the present level of unemployment has its roots in the policies of the Labour Government, who believed that they could spend their way out of their problems? All that they were doing was passing on the problems to those following. The present taxpayer is footing the bill for the profligate policies of the past.

Mr. Wakeham

A substantial cause of Britain's high level of unemployment is the long-term uncompetitiveness of the British economy. In the past year we have seen for the first time a substantial improvement in competitiveness and thus we have some confidence for the future.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

Will the Minister explain why, when unemployment rose to 2 million, the Chancellor of the Exchequer blamed it on the high level of inflation, which was then running in excess of 20 per cent., and yet now, when it is expected to be in single figures, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's public expenditure White Paper expects unemployment to continue to be higher this year, next year and the year after?

Mr. Wakeham

The right hon. Gentleman is experienced in such matters. He knows very well that the White Paper projections are not projections of unemployment, they are forecasts. [Interruption.] They are working assumptions—[Interruption]—for social security planning purposes. It is not the Government's policy, nor was it the policy of the Labour Government, to forecast unemployment.