§ 2. Mr. Canavan
asked the Paymaster General what is the current total number of unemployed people in the United Kingdom.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Ian Lang)
On 6 March 1986 the number of unemployed claimants in the United Kingdom was 3,324,000.
§ Mr. Canavan
Will the Minister now tell us the truth and admit that there are over 4 million unemployed, most of whom are being thrown out of work because of the Government's disastrous economic policies? The Government then fiddle the books to try to conceal the true length of the dole queue, which is costing the country over £20 billion a year. Why cannot that kind of money be channelled into public investment to create real jobs for the unemployed people of this country?
§ Mr. Fallon
Is my hon. Friend aware that under the initiative for the long-term unemployed on Teesside some 70 per cent. of those called in by jobcentres are getting a positive result? Will my hon. Friend pay tribute to jobcentre staff and assessers and invite the Opposition to visit some of this long-term work instead of criticising it as simply tea and sympathy?
§ Mr. Wainwright
Does the Minister realise the serious damage now being done to morale on the youth training scheme and the community programme by the prospects of unemployment for some of those reaching the end of their courses and in the light of the figures that he has just given? Does he agree that the manufacturing and construction sectors, especially, should deliberately be expanded in order to match the number of people who are eager and well-equipped to work in them?
§ Mr. Lang
I have just told the House that employment in this country has risen by about 1 million in the past three years. This suggests that there are a large number of jobs for people completing youth training schemes and the community programme. About two-thirds of YTS graduates go into employment or training and twice as many people coming off the community programme go into jobs as other long-term unemployed people.
§ Mr. Marland
Is my hon. Friend aware that recently, after extensive research, The Mail on Sunday estimated that one-fifth of those who are currently claiming unemployment benefit simultaneously work in the black economy?
§ Mr. Evans
Is the Minister aware that the figures he has given to the House, massaged and fiddled though they are, are an absolute condemnation of six years of Tory Government incompetence? Will the Minister also confirm that when we get the June labour survey figures, as a result of the latest fiddle that the Government are embarking upon, we shall have a substantial drop in the percentage of those unemployed? Will the Minister also 156 say why the monthly labour market statistics are now leaving out such valuable information as the numbers of long-term unemployed? Is the Minister not ashamed of those figures?
§ Mr. Lang
I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the long-term unemployed amount to approximately 1.4 million. On the matter of fiddling the figures, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell us which of the changes that have been made to the unemployment count he would reverse if the Labour party ever came to power?