HC Deb 18 October 1994 vol 248 cc136-7
14. Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current level of unemployment in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.

Mr. Paice

In September, seasonally adjusted claimant unemployment stood at 221,300, down 30,100 since December 1992.

Mr. Brown

In welcoming my hon. Friend to his new duties and his long-overdue promotion, may I congratulate him and the Government on those figures? Can he tell the House the extent to which unemployment has fallen in Brigg and Cleethorpes? Is not it true that, as a result of tremendous inward investment projects by Samsung and Kimberley Clark in my constituency, the unemployment rate will continue to fall in the Yorkshire and Humberside region for many months to come?

Mr. Paice

I am delighted to confirm to my hon. Friend that those figures are replicated in his constituency. Unemployment has fallen in the past month, in the past year, in the past two years and in the past eight years.

Mr. Gunnell

I agree that unemployment has fallen in the constituency of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), which is due in part to overseas investment from Kimberley Clark. As one who was directly involved in attracting that investment, may I ask the Minister to accept that it owed a great deal to Labour-controlled Humberside county council and that Labour authorities have been fully co-operative in attracting all inward investment projects? Does he agree that their welcome has played a significant part in achieving many successes?

Mr. Paice

I am happy to pay tribute where tribute is due. The simple fact is that if the Labour council has helped inward investment, a Labour Government certainly would not, because by implementing the social chapter and a minimum wage they would destroy any prospect of inward investment.

Mr. John Greenway

I, too, welcome my hon. Friend to his new duties. Does he agree that the unemployment rate in the rural areas of Yorkshire is way below the average not just in the United Kingdom but throughout the European Union? Does he also agree that the Government's initiative to improve the rural economy even further, announced at last week's party conference, will be a great boost to jobs in rural areas?

Mr. Paice

My hon. Friend knows of my great sympathy for rural areas; he is absolutely right. The Government's White Paper on rural areas, which was announced last week, will lead to even further stimulus for a range of enterprises to improve employment opportunities in rural areas.