HC Deb 09 May 1995 vol 259 cc545-6
1. Mr. Pawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are now employed in Warwickshire, or the appropriate travel-to-work areas, excluding Coventry; and how many were self-employed in the same area in 1990–91. [21616]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. James Paice)

The labour force survey estimates there were 239,000 people in employment in the county of Warwickshire in autumn 1994, and 228,000 in spring 1992. I am afraid that the comparable information for 1990–91 is not available.

Mr. Pawsey

My hon. Friend's reply shows that the number of jobs in Warwickshire has grown by about 700 in each of the past 18 months. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is a clear sign that the recovery is on track? Does he further agree that any plans to introduce a national minimum wage, as proposed by Opposition Members and the trade unions, would cost us jobs?

Mr. Paice

My hon. Friend is entirely right about the recovery, and we are entering another year of sustained growth. He is also right about the minimum wage. Every time the Opposition equivocate on the question of what level the wage should be, every time they evade the issue of differentials and every time they publish another consultation document, they demonstrate that they know the truth, as we do—minimum wages destroy jobs. When will they have the courage either to answer the questions or to admit that they were wrong?

Mr. Mike O'Brien

Is the Minister aware that unemployment in Warwickshire has risen from 7,300 in 1979 to 12,130 this month? Does that not show that what destroys jobs in Warwickshire is not a minimum wage, but the Tory Government?

Mr. Paice

Unemployment rose under the previous Labour Government, and no Labour Government have left office with unemployment lower than it was when they came into office. Unemployment has risen throughout most of the industrialised world during that period, in which we have been through two serious recessions. We are recovering, and we are leading the world in that recovery.

Mr. Alan Howarth

I welcome the encouraging news which my hon. Friend the Minister has been able to report to the House on employment in Warwickshire. If, however, the Government will not allow adequate investment in education in Warwickshire, we must expect that there will be 172 fewer people employed as teachers in the county during the current year. Given the importance of education to the employment prospects of our young people, we must then expect that fewer Warwickshire children will get jobs—whether self-employed or any other kind—in the future. Will my hon. Friend use his powers of persuasion with those in the Treasury to encourage them to look beyond the ends of their noses?

Mr. Paice

My hon. Friend knows that expenditure on education is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education. We must study how well money is used. There will always be more claims on the money than can be met by the available money. The job of every responsible authority is to make sure that the money is properly used. We delegated that power to schools so that the people at the coal face can use the money to the best advantage of the school.