HC Deb 26 November 1987 vol 123 cc372-3
12. Mr. Cryer

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the gross amount of lost tax revenue due to the level of unemployment for 1986.

Mr. Major

No such estimate is possible.

Mr. Cryer

Is it not true that the loss of some 2 million jobs in manufacturing industry since 1979 — including 130,000 jobs on Humberside—and the other job losses created by the Government are costing the nation £22 billion in lost tax revenue and unemployment benefit payments? Are the Government not prepared to accept that enormous cost to the nation because it is part of their continuing organised attack on the working class?

Mr. Major

The hon. Gentleman really should not believe his own conspiracy theories. He may well not have noticed this, but unemployment has been falling substantially over the past year, not least in the hon. Gentleman's own constituency. I share his pleasure about that. He may also not have noticed — perhaps I may remind him — that the number of people in work has now risen for 17 successive quarters.

Mr. Tim Smith

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the recent buoyancy of income tax revenue, notwithstanding the fall in the standard rate, has been due in large part to the massive growth in employment in the United Kingdom since 1983, which has exceeded the growth in the rest of the European Community? What proportion of increased tax revenues is drawn from that increase in employment?

Mr. Major

My hon. Friend is entirely correct. As I said a moment ago, the number of people in work has now risen consistently for 17 successive quarters, and that necessarily increases tax revenue.

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Is there any chance that the Government will admit that while the total cost of unemployment is £22 billion, the misery, despair and personal hurt of unemployment is borne by unemployed people and their families alone? What will the Government do to prevent unemployment from rising in the next six months, as the CBI forecasts it will?

Mr. Major

The hon. Gentleman has fallen into the same trap as his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer). He has completely overlooked the fact that unemployment is now falling at the rate of 44,000 a month and has been doing so for the past year. He should welcome that.