§ Mr. Hind
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for his reply. Has he noted the figures for unemployment in the long term, which were published yesterday, showing that in Scotland over the past 12 months there has been a reduction of 36,600–16.5 per cent.—in the number unemployed for six months, and a further 28,800–15.6 per cent.—reduction in the number unemployed for 12 months? Does that not vindicate the Government's economic policy and show that it is working in Scotland as well as in the rest of the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. Lang
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the good news that long-term unemployment is falling in Scotland as well as elsewhere in the United Kingdom. I agree with him that that is a result of sustained commitment over a period of years to our economic policies, which are now delivering more increased prosperity.
§ Mr. Canavan
Will the Minister now tell us the whole truth about the Government's track record on Scottish unemployment, which is that there has been an increase of 97 per cent. since that woman got the keys to No. 10 in May 1979?
§ Mr. Lang
I understand the hon. Gentleman's confusion over the matter, because no Labour Government have ever experienced the phenomenon of sustained falls in unemployment. I am sure, however, that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that in his constituency unemployment has fallen in the past year by 1,022.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. My attention was distracted, but I remind the House that we should refer to each other by our constituencies or offices in this place.
§ Mr. Wallace
Does the Minister accept that in "Just Sharing", the book published by the Church of Scotland, unemployment is given as one of the main reasons why poverty in Scotland has nearly doubled during the years of this Conservative Administration? What steps do the Government intend to take to address themselves to that fundamental question of poverty in Scotland?
§ Mr. Lang
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The figures for self-employment that I gave earlier this afternoon show the growth of enterprise in Scotland. It is also encouraging that employment during the last quarter of 1987 rose by around 7,000, and that business surveys from such bodies as the CBI and the Fraser of Allander Institute demonstrate that that growth is continuing.