HC Deb 23 November 1982 vol 32 cc692-3
4. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Employment by how much unemployment has increased in the past 10 years; and what changes there have been in the numbers employed in the professional, business and financial sectors.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. David Waddington)

In the 10 years to June 1982 there was an increase in unemployment of 2,180,000. Over the same period, employment in insurance, banking, finance and business services, and professional and scientific services, increased by 783,000.

Mr. Chapman

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the figures illustrate a great movement from one type of employment to another? Whatever the level of unemployment overall, or the prospects for jobs, is not the lesson to be learnt that if the Government make money available to promote jobs in industry it should be spent on promoting new businesses in new industries, not on preserving uneconomic jobs in declining industries?

Mr. Waddington

My hon. Friend is right. It is perhaps appropriate to emphasise the importance of jobs in the service industries and how those jobs have expanded less rapidly in this country than elsewhere over the past 10 years. It is also important to recognise their importance in future.

Mr. James Lamond

As the Minister has referred to the appalling increase in unemployment over the past 10 years, argued by the Secretary of State to be the fault of very one—business, the world recession and so on—except himself, will he say why we should continue to pay for the Department of Employment if it can do nothing? Is it not time that the Minister did a bit of labour destocking in his own Department?

Mr. Waddington

I do not really blame the hon. Gentleman. Often, hon. Members prepare their supplementaries before hearing the Minister's answer. I did not say anything of the sort. I said that jobs in service industries have not increased as fast in this country in the past 10 years as they have, for instance, in the United States. That is a lesson for all of us to learn.

Mr. Hal Miller

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the Labour Party's proposals to remedy the past 10 years of unemployment bear an uncanny resemblance to the French experience of rising inflation, rising unemployment, a wages and prices freeze, and cuts in social expenditure?

Mr. Waddington

My right hon. Friend recently attended an EEC meeting at which every Minister spoke in similar terms about the absurd remedy put forward by the Labour Opposition. There is no other way forward than that put forward by the Government. It lies in making industry more competitive and reducing the rate of inflation.

Mr. Foster

Is not the great distinction that under this Government employment in the service sector, far from rising, has been reducing since 1979? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman contemplate the effect on the north of England, where there are far too few jobs of this kind, which means that many of our able school leavers have to go elsewhere?

Mr. Waddington

The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends fail to realise that many of these industries can only be supported by the profitability of manufacturing industries. The Labour Party's policies are devoted to making manufacturing industry less profitable.