HC Deb 19 January 1993 vol 217 cc254-5
12. Mrs. Jane Kennedy

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures for the number of people unemployed in the Liverpool travel-to-work area.

Mr. McLoughlin

In November 1992 unadjusted claimant unemployment in the Liverpool travel-to-work area stood at 72,704.

Mrs. Kennedy

In view of those appalling figures what advice would the Minister give to the 27-year-old man who came to see me recently in Liverpool and who in 1983 at the age of 17 took Lord Tebbit's advice and went looking for work? He travelled throughout the south of England from job to job without finding anywhere permanent to settle. He returned to Liverpool in 1991 when the work dried up and has been unemployed for two years. What is the appropriate advice for him?

Mr. McLoughlin

The appropriate advice to give that gentleman is to contact the Employment Service which has been very effective in placing a number of people in work. I am rather surprised that the hon. Lady did not quote the figures showing that between 1986 and November 1992 unemployment in her constituency fell by 2,232, which is 26 per cent. lower than in 1986.

Mr. John Marshall

Has my hon. Friend estimated the impact on unemployment in Liverpool of the introduction of a national minimum wage? Would not that destroy jobs whereas the abolition of wages councils will create jobs?

Mr. McLoughlin

I am grateful to my hon. Friend who rightly points out that Labour has not changed its mind about a national minimum wage, although some Opposition Members, including the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), have accepted that it would reduce people's employment prospects. That is a strange way to try to increase employment.

Mr. Loyden

When will the Minister and his Secretary of State stop fudging about unemployment and stop giving ridiculous and silly answers to questions on a matter that affects millions of families? I note, and it would be significant for others to note, that the Secretary of State constantly refers to the burden on employers. At no time did she mention the burden on the unemployed and their families. When will the Government face their responsibility for the present economic climate that brought about such unemployment?

Mr. McLoughlin

We take the plight of those people who are unemployed very seriously. That is why we shall not take easy options to try to bring about an unrealistic end to high levels of unemployment. I would say to the hon. Gentleman that in his constituency, unemployment is 33 per cent. lower than it was in 1986. I should have thought that he might welcome that.