HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc167-9
3. Mr. Leighton

asked the Paymaster General how many full-time employees there were in employment in 1979, 1983 and 1985, respectively.

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

Estimates of full-time and part-time male employees in employment are not separately available for these dates. In June 1979 there were 18,768,000 male employees and full-time female employees in employment. The corresponding estimates for 1983 and 1985 are 16,626,000 and 16,490,000 respectively.

Mr. Leighton

Do the figures not show the full enormity of what has happened, the destruction of 2.5 million full-time jobs since 1979 and, in the past two years, the destruction of 750,000 full-time jobs? The only growth in recent times has been in a secondary labour market of an under class of female part-time labour with no employment protection, low pay, no holiday pay, no sick pay, and no pension rights. That is accompanied by a continued relentless destruction of full-time jobs.

Mr. Clark

That is exactly what the figures do not reveal. The hon. Gentleman is presumably drawing on the expert acquaintance of such matters that he has acquired in his distinguished service as Chairman of the Select Committee. He has chosen to use the arcane statisticians' definition of employees in employment instead of the more usual definition of the employed labour force. Had he chosen to use the employed labour force, which is the usual category by which the figures are judged, he would have seen that the number of jobs has increased by 709,000 since 1983, and that the total lost since 1979 has been just over million.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

Does my hon. Friend agree that there were 1,800,000 in self employment in 1979? There are now 2,500,000. That is an encouraging increase, because if each unemployed person creates a good business, he can employ more people. That is a major area of employment growth.

Mr. Clark

My hon. Friend is entirely right and doubtless it is for that reason that the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) deliberately selected that category, which excludes the self employed from his total.

Mr. Wainwright

Will the Minister stop the misleading practice, when preparing the figures of employment, of treating men's part-time jobs as the full equivalent of men's full-time jobs? Is there any reason why the House should continually be misled by that failure to distinguish?

Mr. Clark

A job is a job. I am surprised to find the hon. Gentleman, speaking as he does for the Liberal party, adhering to that rigorous Stakhanovite doctrine held by so many members of the Opposition that everybody should be fully working the entire time.

Mr. Yeo

Will my hon. Friend join me in rejecting the implications behind some supplementary questions that part-time work is in some way inferior to other forms of work? In practice, part-time work provides welcome and satisfying opportunities for employment. It makes an important contribution to the economy as a whole and is often very much welcomed by employers.

Mr. Clark

My hon. Friend is right. The majority of those who work part time do so from choice and not from pressure.

Mr. Evans

Do not the carefully selected figures that the Minister has presented to the House show clearly the employment disaster that has struck the United Kingdom as a result of the Government's economic policies? As the Minister is keen to boast about self-employment, will he provide the figures showing the growth in self-employed labour known as "lump labour" in the construction industry, which has been rapid over the past two years?

Mr. Clark

I understand that the hon. Gentleman has to make these ritual declarations once a month. Those who are self-employed, proud of their status and conscious of the expanding opportunities that they give others—many of them are offering employment as their businesses grow and flourish—will resent the aspersions that the hon. Gentleman is casting upon them.

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