asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will in future arrange to publish regular figures of the number of jobs in prospect for each locality on a comparable basis with the published unemployment figures for local employment exchanges in the Ministry of Labour Gazette;
(2) if he will give the latest figure of jobs in prospect in the Dewsbury Employment Exchange area.
Our information as to jobs in prospect is derived partly from applications for industrial development certificates and partly from the contacts which Board of Trade, both at headquarters and in the regions, have with industry. Though a useful indication, it is inevitably incomplete and in some degree uncertain. For example, we do not necessarily know of extra jobs that might be provided by purchase of existing premises. It is, therefore, not comparable with the figures, based on actual returns, published in the Ministry of Labour Gazette.
For these reasons, the regular publication of this information would involve a burden altogether disproportionate to its value. But my right hon. Friend is always prepared to give whatever information we have for particular places to hon. Members who ask. In the case of the Dewsbury Employment Exchange area, the rate of unemployment is 1·1 per cent. and there are a number of vacancies outstanding; but I am not aware of any new projects providing prospects of additional jobs.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. With regard to the figure he has just quoted for the Dewsbury area, would he not agree that this represents a very unsatisfactory state of affairs having regard to the 1952 and 1958 woollen textile recessions and that it is undoubtedly recognised that there is a need for industrial diversification in the heavy woollen district? Also, as the President of the Board of Trade in last week's debate was able to provide information about jobs in prospect in particular areas to indicate that support could legitimately be withdrawn from certain areas, would it not be better to publish the data so that the country might judge how the Government are measuring up to their responsibilities?
With regard to the first supplementary question, the rate of unemployment in the Dewsbury area in January was 1·1 per cent., or 361 people. A year ago the rate was over 3 per cent. Outstanding vacancies in January numbered 320. I hoped I had covered the hon. Gentleman's second supplementary question in my original Answer in which I indicated that we are prepared to give figures for individual areas but not to publish a regular series.
Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that he has knocked a large number of us off the list in the Local Employment Bill solely on the ground that our future prospects, scientifically computed by his Department, do not warrant our being left on the list? If he is prepared to give that information in respect of any individual town, and if he is also prepared to use it as the basis of policy, what is to stop him correlating all this information and publishing it officially? Is it because he knows it is unreliable?
I must correct the hon. Lady. It is not solely on the ground of jobs in prospect that areas have been taken off the list or not added to it. Secondly, I pointed out that our own information is deficient in certain sectors. For example, we have no accurate information about non-industrial jobs.