HC Deb 16 March 1993 vol 221 cc157-8
9. Mr. Hardy

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many unfilled vacancies are currently recorded by her Department; and what is the extent of duplication of these numbers where vacancies are listed at more than one office.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Some 104,700 in January 1993. There is no duplication, as each vacancy is counted only once.

Mr. Hardy

Will the Minister give the House a categorical assurance that no duplication has previously occurred and been counted? Does he accept that if duplication has occurred, it may provide an innocent explanation for ministerial claims to have observed the green shoots of economic recovery? In that case, the cause would have been duplication and error, not villainy, as some of us suspect.

Mr. Forsyth

I am astonished at what the hon. Gentleman has said. I should have thought that he would know that the Employment Service in South Yorkshire has placed about 50 per cent. more people in jobs than two years ago. The Employment Service advertises a minority of the vacancies, which is why it has been advertising for more employers to place vacancies with it. The hon. Gentleman is well aware—as is everyone in the House—that there is a recession. However, the Employment Service is doing an excellent job and I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman seeks to denigrate its excellent activities.

Mr. Forman

I welcome my hon. Friend's clarification that there is no duplication, but is it not also true that the officially recorded statistics for vacancies understate the true number as they do not take account of those that are privately notified?

Mr. Forsyth

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Vacancies may be advertised in several jobcentres so that people have an opportunity to apply for the jobs. We do not count the vacancies twice, but individually.

Mr. Dobson

Will the Minister confirm that, according to the Government's figures, there are 31 people chasing every job vacancy in the Chancellor's constituency, 181 people chasing every job vacancy in the Chief Secretary's constituency, and no fewer than 195 people chasing every job vacancy in the constituency where the Prime MInister grew up?

Mr. Forsyth

What I will confirm is that, if the hon. Gentleman had had his way and there was a minimum wage and a payroll tax, and we had embraced the social chapter, there would be 2 million more people out of work in this country.

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