§ Mr. Peter Robinson
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the present level of economic activity in Northern Ireland compared with that in May 1979, with particular reference to the levels of unemployment.
§ Mr. Adam Butler
Economic activity in Northern Ireland at the present time, like the rest of the United Kingdom and most other industrialised countries, is affected by the world-wide recession. Seasonally adjusted unemployment—excluding school leavers—at 94,600 in March 1981 was 35,400–59.8 per cent—higher than the May 1979 figure of 59,200. The decline in manufacturing output in the Province in the last two years was marginally less severe than in the United Kingdom as a whole.
The Government's policy is to develop a stronger and broader industrial and commercial base in order to ensure real and more enduring employment; and particularly, to encourage established firms, to cultivate small businesses and to attract new, inward investment.