HC Deb 03 July 1984 vol 63 cc140-1
10. Mr. Andrew MacKay

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a further statement on the level of unemployment in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Gummer

The fight for jobs is a battle to improve Britain's competitiveness and to ensure that higher productivity leads to new opportunities and not only to higher wages for those in work.

Mr. MacKay

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the best way of creating real lasting jobs for the future is for us to produce goods and services at a competitive price and thus create real new markets?

Mr. Gummer

I can confirm that, and I remind my hon. Friend that other countries are finding a very much better way of decreasing unit labour costs compared with ourselves. We have to make sure that those at work do not kill the prospects for jobs of others who do not have them.

Mr. Canavan

Is it not ironic that when unemployment seems to be our only growth industry the Government propose to cut the services to help the unemployed get jobs? What advice would the Minister give to an unemployed person in a place such as Denny in my constituency, where unemployment is more than 30 percent. and the Government's only response is to downgrade the local jobcentre so that anyone unemployed who cannot afford the bus fare has to walk several miles into Falkirk to the nearest jobcentre?

Mr. Gummer

The present proposals will create 200 more jobcentres and provide a better service than the present ones.

Sir John Page

Does my hon. Friend agree that employment could be improved greatly if people bought more British goods, provided that they were of equal quality and competitive in price? Will he smile upon the "Think British" campaign?

Mr. Gummer

It is obviously true that if people bought more British goods there would be more jobs in Britain, but those goods much be competitive in price and design. One of the problems at present is that the Labour party does little to help that work.

Mr. James Hamilton

Will the hon. Gentleman reflect on his statement in reply to a previous question, when he exhorted us to adopt a non-party approach to unemployment? Will he also reflect on the statements made by the Tory party in 1979 and in its manifesto in 1983, when it decided to cut unemployment? Has it done so, and if not, when does it intend to do so?

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Gentleman will remember that I said that the youth training scheme would be benefited if people took a non-party political view, instead of constantly attacking it, like the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) does.

Sir Kenneth Lewis

Is it not time that the Labour party recognised that Arthur Scargill is threatening to cause more unemployment, not only among the miners but among steel workers, transport workers and many other groups, than anyone else in the country?

Mr. Gummer

The jobs of miners and steel workers depend on sensible production in the coal mines. The Government are providing £2 million a day to ensure that those coal mines are able to produce as they ought to. It is very sad that in the name of only part of the mining industry some people are trying to torpedo that.