§ Mr. Winnick
asked the Prime Minister, in view of the increase in unemployment since May 1979 of over 240 per cent. in the Walsall travel-to-work area, if Her Majesty's Government will now take steps to reduce the amount of joblessness in this area and the West Midlands region; and if she will make a statement.
§ The Prime Minister
The creation of soundly based jobs depends upon the ability of industry and commerce to meet more effectively the needs of consumers at home and abroad.
The Government's policies are designed to that end. By firm control of public expenditure and other measures, inflation has been reduced to 10.4 per cent. with a continuing fall in prospect, and interest rates have been moderated. In industry, productivity has sharply increased, costs have been controlled and our international competitiveness has been increased. Industrial relations have been improved with fewer days lost last year through strikes than in any year since 1967, apart from 1976.
All this has formed a firm foundation for future growth in employment prospects in Walsall and the United Kingdom as a whole.
In the meantime, under the Government's special employment measures, some 2,800 people in Walsall are currently benefiting from the job release scheme, community industry, the temporary short-time working compensation scheme and the community enterprise programme. And in the last year over 7,400 young people have entered the youth opportunities programme.