HC Deb 21 February 1985 vol 73 cc1191-2
11. Mr. James Lamond

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has made any calculation of the impact of the recent public expenditure White Paper on unemployment.

Mr. Peter Rees

The Government's public expenditure plans are an integral part of their policies to encourage a vigorous and enterprising economy and, thus, the conditions for sustainable growth of jobs.

Mr. Lamond

Does the Minister realise that he is speaking against a background of growing unemployment, including another 1,000 men placed on the unemployment register in my constituency in Oldham, and that, despite the welter of statistics with which he tries to mislead the country, outside this building there are 4 million people, who are not statistics, who are unemployed, and to whom his boast of an expanding economy rings very hollow indeed?

Mr. Rees

The hon. Gentleman misunderstands the background against which I gave my answer. There was an increase in jobs of 389,000 between the third quarter of 1983 and the third quarter of 1984.

Mr. Heddle

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that unemployment in the construction industry could be reduced significantly if development land tax was amended significantly? Does he agree also that the cost of collecting this pernicious tax exceeds the net revenue that is enjoyed from it?

Mr. Rees

My hon. Friend's second proposition is not correct. As for prospects of abolishing or curtailing the tax, my hon. Friend will have to wait for 19 March.

Mr. Ron Brown

If things are on the up and up, as is alleged, why is it that Rowntree Mackintosh is closing its profitable factory in Edinburgh? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer that question?

Mr. Rees

No, because I am not answerable for Rowntree Mackintosh.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, irrespective of what the White Paper may say, if workers continue to ask for more money than the value of the goods they produce they will put more and more people out of work? Would it be an idea for the teaching profession to learn that as well?

Mr. Rees

I am sure that the House will accept my hon. Friend's analysis. I hope that the lesson is learnt by the trade union movement.

Mr. Terry Davis

Will the reduction of £1 billion in spending on construction next year compared with expenditure in the previous year result in more, or fewer, jobs?

Mr. Rees

The hon. Gentleman, like his hon. Friends, is focusing on the public sector. He should consider housing starts in the private sector.

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