HC Deb 12 April 1983 vol 40 cc654-5
7. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Employment to what measures to reduce the level of unemployment in the United Kingdom he attaches particular priority.

Mr. Alison

To reduce unemployment we must create the economic conditions in which industry can become more competitive. Low inflation, a sound monetary and fiscal framework and moderate wage settlements are crucial for this.

Mr. Evans

Has the Minister seen the National Economic Development Council's report, which was published today, which shows that in the 40 sectors in manufacturing industry and the service industries there will be further increases in unemployment throughout the 1980s if the Government pursue their present policies? Do we not need a radical change in the Government's policies or, better still, a change of Government?

Mr. Alison

I do not attach overwhelming importance to that report. It was culled and developed before the latest upturn occurred. If it could not foresee the immediate upturn that occurred, it is unlikely that it would get the next 10 years right.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital to the reduction of unemployment for British manufacturers to provide the goods and services that the public want, at the price that the public will pay and when the public are prepared to take them?

Mr. Alison

I agree with my hon. Friend's observation. I hope that his point has been noted in Cowley and elsewhere.

Mr. Alton

Is the Minister aware that 138,000 people on Merseyside—one in five of the working population — are unemployed? Is he further aware that Kraft Foods, which announced a further 1,000 redundancies last week, together with Bowyers, Lyons Maid and others that have pulled out of the city in the past few months, has not complained about levels of productivity? What will the Minister do to ensure that the jobs that have been bled from Merseyside are restored to the people there?

Mr. Alison

I think that the single word "Halewood" would be an adequate reply to give to the inhabitants of Merseyside.