HC Deb 08 November 1983 vol 48 cc134-5
6. Mr. Dobson

asked the Secretary of State for Employment which five industrial sectors in Greater London have lost the largest numbers of employees since May 1979; and if he will indicate the job losses in each sector.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Alan Clark)

The five groups of industries whose employment figures have fallen most in the five years between June 1978 and June 1983 are:

Engineering and allied industries 81,000
Transport and Communication 52,000
Distributive trades 40,000
Other manufacturing industries 33,000
Construction 31,000

Further details will be circulated later in the Official Report.

Mr. Dobson

Does the Minister accept that, with London's reputation for prosperity, those figures are disastrous? Do they not demonstrate the effects of the Government's attempt to introduce into employment the free play of market forces? Is there not a good case for a positive interventionist policy by the GLC and the London boroughs if the Government are not willing to introduce that themselves?

Mr. Clark

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment or election—I am never sure which—to a shadow responsibility.

I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's case. More than 170,000 people in London have been placed in employment by the employment service since April this year. The flow of employment in and out of jobs is much faster in London than in many other parts of the country.

As for the hon. Gentleman's recommendation for an interventionist policy, I draw his attention to the various schemes with which, as an energetic London Member, he must be familiar.

Mr. Bottomley

Does my hon. Friend accept that the best intervention to help employment in London would be rate capping and rate control? Does he agree that the large rate increases imposed by the GLC, ILEA and Greenwich are a penalty on employment that needs to be removed?

Mr. Clark

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. One factor that is driving firms—especially small firms—out of the GLC area is the enormous rates increases promulgated by Labour councils.