HC Deb 08 November 1983 vol 48 cc137-8
10. Mr. Straw

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the total numbers of unemployed within the county of Lancashire in May 1979 and September 1983.

Mr. Alan Clark

In May 1979 there were 29,735 people registered as unemployed in Lancashire. In September 1983 the number of unemployed claimants in the county was 75,358. The figures include school leavers and are not seasonally adjusted.

Mr. Straw

Does the Minister agree that it is an appalling indictment of the Government that unemployment in Lancashire has trebled over the past four years? If, as the Minister claims, high rates in London have led to job losses, how does he explain the loss of jobs in Lancashire, where rates have been among the lowest in the country?

Mr. Clark

The House knows that the hon. Gentleman was author of the Labour party's "Programme for Recovery", but that never saw the light of day, which may give him a vested interest in such questions. The un-employment rate in Lancashire is only 13.2 per cent.—0.2 per cent. above the national average.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that, despite the excessive rates levied by Lancashire county council, in some part in supplementary rates, there are still stories of success, for example Dainichi-Sykes Ltd., which has just obtained a contract from Jaguar Cars that will double the number of people employed by the company in a high technology area such as robotics?

Mr. Clark

Indeed there are, and 9,000 people benefit from the young workers' scheme in the constituency of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), for which he should be grateful.

Mr. Litherland

Has the Minister studied the Youthaid report, which states that 50 per cent. of 18-year-olds in this country are on the dole and that that percentage is even higher in the inner city areas of Manchester? Does that not contradict what was said today about youth aid? Does he agree that the future of young people is being sold out by this Government?

Mr. Clark

It is an intractable and distressing problem, but one to which the Government pay great attention, both through the young workers' scheme and the youth training schemes. These schemes are operating effectively in inner Manchester, as the hon. Gentleman knows.

Mr. Tracey

Does my hon. Friend agree that it ill-becomes the Labour party to lecture the Government on unemployment since, on Friday last when the House discussed the important subject of small business, one of the greatest providers of new jobs — [Interruption.] — only three Opposition Members turned up?

Mr. Clark

I agree with my hon. Friend and certainly the aversion that the Labour party has for small business and the power that it has to generate employment- and prosperity is a standing curiosity in the House.