HC Deb 27 April 1987 vol 115 cc12-3
22. Mr. Silvester

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many persons are employed by the Duchy in the north-west region.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Norman Tebbit)

Nineteen, Sir.

Mr. Silvester

Is my right hon. Friend also pleased that there has been a continuous fall in unemployment in the north-west during the past eight months in respect of both male and female unemployment, and that the percentage of unemployment is low compared with the previous period?

Mr. Tebbit

Indeed, and that contrasts starkly with the predictions made not that long ago by Labour party spokesmen to the effect that unemployment would rise inexorably and would exceed 5 million by the time of the next general election. As usual, another of their alarm scares and smears has been shown to be as untrue as they always have been.

Mr. Alton

Notwithstanding the welcome increase in employment prospects for people in the north-west, does the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster accept that there is a major problem of unemployment in the region and that only when the Government recognise the need to put money into construction projects, such as the creation of improved housing and the building of something like the Mersey barrage, will many of the unemployed in that important sector find work?

Mr. Tebbit

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says about the major problem of unemployment that still exists in the region, but it would be foolish to return to the policies that brought about that structural imbalance in the region—high public spending, state intervention and things of that sort. Of course there is a need for infrastructure spending, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will shortly have something to say on our roads programme. Of course it has been right to help Liverpool by giving it the amount of urban aid grant that we have. Of course it is right to improve the water supply in the north-west. But in the long term the salvation of the north-west will be the private sector of enterprise creating firms which produce goods that people wish to buy.