HC Deb 18 January 1994 vol 235 cc693-4
3. Mr. Garnier

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how the total of civilian employment in the east midlands has changed in the last 10 years.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Miss Ann Widdecombe)

Between March 1983 and September 1993, the civilian employment total in the east midlands rose by 170,000.

Mr. Garnier

Has my hon. Friend had a chance to study the reports of the Lloyds bank business survey, which deals with both the national position and that in the east midlands and which predicts larger job increases, more profits and wider overseas markets for east midlands businesses? Is she aware that the employment picture in Harborough is better than it was 10 years ago, last year or even last month? Indeed, our unemployment figures are under 2,000.

Miss Widdecombe

I can confirm to my hon. Friend that, quite fortuitously, I have here the survey that he mentioned. It shows, among other things, that about a quarter of the firms in his constituency have taken on more staff. It also confirms that 16 per cent. expect to take on more staff during the next six months. It ends with a sentiment which I think would be generally echoed from the Government Benches: This survey clears up any doubts that the UK economic recovery is finally established and under way.

Mr. Jim Marshall

That reply displays an unwarranted sense of complacency. The Minister may not have to hand the figures for my constituency, which is adjacent to that of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier), but may I remind her that it still has an unemployment rate of more than 13 per cent? Until the Government take a more proactive role, unemployment will remain unacceptably high.

Miss Widdecombe

It is abundantly clear that the new year's resolutions taken by Opposition Members did not include one to put cheer, heart and encouragement into their constituents. Perhaps I could carry out that role for the hon. Gentleman and give his constituents some heart and encouragement by saying that in his area there has also been a rise in civilian employment of 78,000 during the period in question. Will he please welcome that?

Mrs. Angela Knight

Is my hon. Friend aware of the recent publication of a pamphlet entitled "Unemployment in Derbyshire", which shows that unemployment was falling fast in the county and that vacancies were rising? Does she agree that that underlines the fact that Britain is moving out of recession? Does it also mean that the prospects are better, not just for those without a job in the county and in my constituency of Erewash, but for school leavers this summer?

Miss Widdecombe

I can confirm what my hon. Friend says. With the exception of the Opposition, there is now no one in the country who does not welcome the fall in unemployment in every region, the increase in vacancies and in civilian employment and the flexibility which means that we can take advantage of inward investment. When the Opposition start cheering those facts, I will believe that they care about British workers.