HC Deb 07 July 1992 vol 211 cc172-3
9. Mr. Denham

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action she intends to take to reduce unemployment in the Southampton travel-to-work area.

Mr. McLoughlin

The employment service in Southampton and the Hampshire training and enterprise council deliver a wide range of employment, enterprise and training programmes to help unemployed people find the best and quickest route back to employment. The latest figures for the Southampton travel-to-work area show that there was a reduction of 298 in the number of people claiming benefit.

Mr. Denham

Does the Minister accept that during the past three years unemployment in Southampton has risen from 7,400 to almost 13,000 and that there are now 42 unemployed claimants chasing every jobcentre vacancy? Is he aware that according to yesterday's Treasury model forecasts, my constituents can expect unemployment to rise even higher?

May I assume that the hon. Gentleman would not attempt to cure a migraine with a hammer, and that therefore there might to an outside chance that he will realise that Government policies are creating unemployment, not solving the problem'?

Mr. McLoughlin

No, I do not accept that. My point was that there was a reduction in the number of people claiming benefit last month. The way to ensure that employment grows is to keep inflation low and not to create artificial barriers to employment—the policy on which the Labour party fought the last election.

Mr. Milligan

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the most serious threats to jobs in the Southampton area is the delay in completing the M3 motorway at Twyford down, which has resulted in some of the worst traffic jams in southern England? Is he further aware that if the Labour party had won the election, it would have carried out its commitment to stop all work on that motorway, which would have seriously damaged employment in Southampton?

Will my hon. Friend convey his view, if it is his view, to our right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment that that motorway should be completed as soon as possible? Jobs in Southampton are more important than butterflies on Twyford down.

Mr. McLoughlin

I acknowledge my hon. Friend's point about the importance of infrastructure in serving particular regions. and areas. The former Member of Parliament for Southampton, Itchen, Mr. Christopher Chope, played a leading role in securing the completion of the M3, which is a great credit to him. I will convey the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Milligan) to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Back to