HC Deb 18 March 1986 vol 94 cc156-7
12. Mr. Loyden

asked the Paymaster General if he will give the latest figure of long-term unemployed in the Merseyside travel-to-work area.

Mr. Lang

On 9 January 1986, the latest date for which figures are available, 55,814 claimants in the Liverpool travel-to-work area had been unemployed for over one year.

Mr. Loyden

When will the Government recognise that unemployment is not a matter of statistics but represents human misery? In the Merseyside travel-to-work area the figure is a scandal. Nothing is being done by the Government about the problem. The bankruptcy of their policies is now exposed. When will they recognise that they have to do something positive for the long-term unemployed?

Mr. Lang

We certainly recognise the misery and anxiety behind the statistics of the unemployed. We are concerned about the problem and are anxious to help. That is why the Government have a wide range of schemes, which are designed specifically to bring help to the long-term unemployed in Merseyside and elsewhere.

Mr. Cash

Does my hon. Friend agree that the unemployment level in Merseyside is so high because of the disgraceful behaviour of councillors in that area?

Mr. Lang

My hon. Friend has a good point. If the public relations policy of councillors, let alone the way in which they run the council, was better, the many good things about Merseyside would become apparent. For example, the vast majority of firms in Merseyside have never been involved in industrial disputes.

Mr. Alton

Is the Minister aware that 78,000 men and 29,000 women in the city of Liverpool alone are currently out of work? Is he aware that prerequisites for employment are a willingness on the part of the local authority to show less aggression and confrontation and a willingness on the part of the Government to provide a major infrastructure scheme to take skilled people off the dole?

Mr. Lang

The hon. Gentleman is right about local government. In regard to the role of the Government, I must tell him that Government aid to Merseyside amounted to over £1 billion in the last year, so nobody can say that the Government have not been giving help to Merseyside.