I have two announcements to make. I have not selected the Amendment standing in the names of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and his hon. Friends:
Leave out from 'House' to end and add 'whilst conscious of the fact that the Opposition's policies on unemployment have always been, and are, disastrous to the nation, regrets that Her Majesty's Government have not reduced unemployment by pursuing expansionist policies and by taking the most effective action to stimulate economic activity in the development areas; and calls upon the Government to accept the proposals of the Trades Union Congress for expanding the economy, and to reinforce the creation of jobs in the development areas by adopting the Labour Party policy of setting up public enterprises in those areas'.
That point of view, together with many others, will no doubt be expressed in the debate.
Secondly, may I point out that these are two short censure debates. It will help the Chair, it will help one's colleagues, if anyone who catches Mr. Speaker's eye speaks briefly.
I beg to move,
That this House, deploring the fact that there has now been the longest continuous period of high unemployment since the war, condemns Her Majesty's Government for failing to honour the assurances given by the Prime Minister that there would be no general rise in unemployment.
It may be astonishing that there is not a Treasury Minister on the Government
Front Bench for this debate, but surely it is even more astonishing that there is no Minister of Labour there. Where is the First Secretary and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity? Perhaps tripping over her titles on the way to the House. We mean no disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State when we make this complaint. We respect his ability and knowledge, we guess that his knowledge may be a little better on this subject than that of his right hon. Friend, but that is not the point. He is not the responsible Minister. There is in this House a tradition, indeed, it is a principle of our system of government, that Ministers are held personally responsible to the House for the affairs of their Departments. I cannot help—[AN HON. MEMBER: "Here is the right hon. Lady."] I do not know whether I should say better late than never.
While we are glad to have the right hon. Lady with us we are still astonished, that she is not to speak in this debate. If we compare the right hon. Lady with all of her predecessors, in both parties, I do not believe that one Minister of Labour in the past, certainly not in the last 20 years, because I have done some research on this this morning—has failed to come to that Box and stand up for his Department's work and policy when we have had a general debate on national employment. I bet that the right hon. Lady will be speaking when we come to the Second Reading of the Equal Pay Bill. She likes being in the kitchen when the sun is shining, but when the heat is on, she gets clear. [Interruption.] Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to interrupt?
At least we will have the second greatest "Whitehall imperialist" winding up the debate.
The basic facts which led to this debate are stark and simple. We are now going through, without any argument, the longest and most continuous period of unemployment in this country since the war. In 29 out of the last 30 months the total of registered unemployed in Great Britain has exceeded half a million. There has been nothing comparable with that in the last quarter of a century.
Let us look not just at the last 30 months, but at the whole 5¼ years of Labour government. Let us not look just at the total of registered unemployed, which is a higher figure, but at the more basic although superficially more favourable figure of the wholly unemployed after excluding the temporarily stopped and the school leavers. Then we find that in the last 63 months under a Labour Government the number of unemployed has exceeded half a million in no less than 30 of those months. During the previous 156 months of Conservative government the figure of half a million was exceeded in only eight months. Those are the basic figures.
Let us turn to the assurances against which these facts have to be judged. Let us lock at the general assurances about the employment situation which formed such an important part of the Prime Minister's sales talk to the electorate in 1964 and 1966, and since. At the time of those General Elections this set the level of expectation which the public looked forward to enjoying under a Labour Government.
First, let us recall what the Prime Minister said at Edinburgh on 3rd March, 1964:
We remember the 7 per cent. Bank Rate…the deliberate slamming on of all the brakes which caused short-time working and unemployment.
We remember them sadly when we look at the figures today and we would wish to go back to them.
Let us look at what the Prime Minister said after he had won the 1964 Election, on 29th October, 1964. This was the scene which he set for the people of the country:
The facilities for further borrowing which have been carefully and closely built up in these past few years have given us a base from which we can advance, without panic measures, without devaluation, without stop and go measures.
Not much more than a week later the Prime Minister said in this House:
One choice was rejected.
he was talking about the Government's economic policy—
We decided firmly against going back to stop-go-stop policies.…We are not prepared to expand unemployment and loss of production which economic defeatism of this kind entails."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd November, 1964; Vol. 701, c. 79.]
Let us turn from this type of general assurance, setting the scene, to those assurances which were much more specific. Let us look at the National Plan, published in September, 1965, which spoke about a manpower gap of 400,000 which would require to be bridged if the gross programme was to be achieved. What has actually happened is that the number of employees in employment has fallen from 23,209,000 in September, 1965, to 22,515,000 in March, 1969, the latest date for which figures are available. There has been a drop of almost 700,000 in the number employed since the National Plan foresaw a need for 400,000 more employees. The total wholly unemployed is now almost exactly double the total of September, 1965.
On 26th March, 1966, at Manchester, the Prime Minister said:
These are the issues"—
of the election—
Whether the grave economic difficulties the Tories left us with are to be put right by methods which maintain full employment, or whether, as the Tories keep hinting, by methods involving cutting demand, unleashing deflation and causing unemployment and short-time working.
Who has cut the demand; who has unleashed deflation; who has caused unemployment?
May I take up a remark which I have just overheard from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), speaking from a sitting posture, who said, "The same old Treasury". This may be a point. It may be that what we are suffering from is not a dishonest Prime Minister, but a weak Prime Minister, who makes promises, as he did on housing, who says that no developments, no circumstances, however adverse, will prevent a pledge being carried out, but when the developments take place, when the adverse circumstances arise, there is no strength, only weakness.
May I turn now to the Prime Minister's Press conference of 29th March, 1966 in the last General Election campaign? He answered a direct question put to him, I think on the previous day, by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition:
Can Mr. Wilson deny that, if he is returned to power there will be an increase in employment in this country this winter?
That is to say, the winter of 1966–67. The Prime Minister gave this answer:
… we see no reason why it should rise at all, apart from seasonal increases.
The assurance was clear and precise, but what happened? In March, 1966, when the Prime Minister gave that assurance, the unemployment figure was 314,000. By December, 1966, it had risen to 564,000. Just to show that it was not just seasonal, let me compare it to the figure for December, 1965, which was 332,000. So much for that pledge.
Then we come to the crisis measures in July, 1966, only four months after the election. The Prime Minister told the House:
If the figure of unemployment were, after all the reabsorption, after all the redeployment and after the measures for regional distribution, to rise to a figure between 1½ and 2 per cent., I do not believe that the House as a whole would consider that unacceptable." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1966; Vol. 732, c. 646.]
Nor would the House as a whole have considered it unacceptable. The Prime Minister's upper limit of 2 per cent. would amount to approximately 470,000 unemployed. At present, the number is about 630,000 unemployed.
May I give one last quotation from the Prime Minister, speaking at Kirkby on 1st May, 1966, still living in cloudcuckoo-land. He said:
We have rejected the stop-go economy—the proposition that you can only pay your way through cutting imports and increasing exports the hard way, through deflation, unemployment and short-time working.
I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman thinks that his Government have been doing since then.
The assurances that there would be no general rise in unemployment under a Labour Government are clear, strong, undeniable. It is also undeniable that there has been a large and persistent general increase in unemployment. It is also undeniable that this increase has been and still is the direct result of the Government's own policies, and that the Government must have known that this would be the result of those policies when them embarked on them. They lied to the country.
It is also undeniable that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) has made it plain time and again in this House that he and the party he represents support deflation, that they would not expand the economy, and that what this country is suffering from now is consensus economic policies which have led to the present high level of unemployment.
I think that the House and the country as a whole will believe what the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens) persistently fails to see or believe, that facts speak louder than words.
All through the period when the Conservative Government were said to be following these stop-go policies, these deflationary measures which the Prime Minister said he would do away with if only the country would elect a Labour Government, all through those 156 months, the figure of unemployment rose above the 500,000 level in only eight months, compared with 29 out of the last 30. Let us judge them by that record.
And that peak was 1,800,000. If the hon. Gentleman will not take it from me, perhaps he will take it from Mr. Victor Feather, who, a week or so ago commenting on the January figures, said:
The number of men and women completely out of work now exceeds 600,000 for the first time since 1963. Nor does this include the 38,000 unemployed in Northern Ireland. The 1963 figure was very much affected by the exceptional winter then.
Just as was the 1947 figure.
Mr. Feather went on to say:
So that these"—
the January figures—
are the highest figures since soon after the war.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will take from the General Secretary of the T.U.C. what he is perhaps not prepared to take from me.
May I look a little more deeply into the facts which lie behind these overall unemployment figures. Let us look at the regions and consider the monthly averages of unemployment at the beginning of the Labour Government's period of office and now. London and the South-East, in 1965 the monthly average unemployment was 0 8 per cent.; in 1969, 1·5 per cent. Eastern and Southern Region, 1965, 0·9 per cent.; last year, 1·7 per cent. South-Western, in 1964, 1·5 per cent.; last year, 2·6 per cent. West Midlands, in 1964, 0·8 per cent.; last year, 1·7 per cent. East Midlands, in 1965, 0·8 per cent.; last year 1·9 per cent.
Yorkshire and Humberside, in 1965, 1·0 per cent; last year, 2·5 per cent. North-Western, in 1964, 2 per cent.; last year, 2·4 per cent. Northern, in 1964, 3·2 per cent.; last year, 4·7 per cent. Wales, in 1964, 2·4 per cent.; last year, 3·9 per cent. Scotland, in 1964, 3·5 per cent.; last year, 3·6 per cent.
But the unemployment figures do not tell the whole story. When job opportunities are poor, large numbers of people just disappear from the labour market and do not show up in those figures. We always have to look at the other side of the coin, the number actually in employment.
The figures quoted by my right hon. Friend are very interesting, but even they do not show the true gravity of the situation. In a Parliamentary Answer I received on 19th January the Minister said that the number of people unemployed in Cornwall is now 50 per cent. above the figure in November, 1964. What sort of regional development is that?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Nott) for pointing that out. If I had the time, I could, in all these main regions, find case after case of the kind that he has mentioned.
We want also to look at the employment figures. For Great Britain as a whole there were 676,000 fewer people in jobs in March, 1969, than there were in March, 1966. What an achievement in three years to reduce the number of people in jobs by 676,000! Then in terms of percentage change Scotland is the only region in the country where the percentage increase has been relatively small in unemployment, but looking at employment we find that in Scotland there were 66,000 fewer people in jobs in March last year than in March three years earlier, when the Prime Minister was giving his pledge.
As a matter of fact, I am talking about the employment figures. We have debated unemployment in Scotland many times and no doubt will be debating it again. No doubt my hon. Friend, in winding up for this side, will have something to say about that matter.
The point I make is that there were 66,000 fewer jobs in Scotland last year than there were when this Government took office. There were 49,000 fewer jobs in Wales, 66,000 fewer in the Northern Region, 111,000 fewer in the North Western Region, 62,000 fewer in the West Midlands, 106.000 fewer in Yorkshire and Humberside, 156,000 fewer in the South-East, 43,000 fewer in the South West, 19,000 fewer in the East Midlands. That is the picture.
Finally, let us look at what the serious general rise in unemployment means in human terms to some of the weakest most needy members of our community. The unemployed registered disabled workers, in December, 1964, numbered 50,400; by December, 1968, the number had risen to 68,300, and by December, 1969, it had risen again to 71,600.
Look now at long-term unemployment. It is now fashionable for Ministers to excuse the unemployment figures by talking about people now taking longer in choosing their next job, because of redundancy payments, and so forth. There may be something in this; but the hypocrisy of this claim overall is apparent when one considers the figures of duration of unemployment. Those who had been unemployed for between two and six months in January, 1966, numbered 89,000. By October, 1969, the last available date for these figures, the number had risen to 132,000. The number unemployed for more than six months and up to one year in January, 1966, amounted to 31,000, and by last October had risen to 62,000—the number of unemployed in that category had doubled.
As for the number of people continuously unemployed for over a year, in January, 1966, there were 51,000 in that category and by last October that number had risen to 95,000. It is taking them a very long time to choose that wonderful new job waiting for them under this glorious Government, and at this moment in history the party opposite chooses to placard the country with notices about "Life and Soul".
But what of the future? The National Institute for Economic and Social Research, in its November, 1969, review, had this to say, and I quote partly from page 11 and partly from page 17:
Although output is now recovering from a period of stagnation the further growth in prospect on present policies would appear to be insufficient to prevent a significant rise in unemployment during 1970. … Although faulty seasonal adjustments are obscuring the short term path of unemployment the gap between productive potential growth and forecast growth is so large that the trend of unemployment must be upwards and, again on the assumption of unchanged policies, would reach something over 700,000 by the end of 1970.
What is the Government's forecast? Will they make changes in policies? Do they agree with the National Institute and, if not, why not? Let us have chapter and verse. If they do intend to change their policies, then let us hear about them. These are the questions which the House, the country, and above all the unemployed, want answered today, not at a moment to suit the budgetary convenience of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
What will Ministers do? We do not want excuses, because the facts, when compared with the promises, are inexcusable. We want no more dishonest assurances. We want no more gimmicks. We just want, for a change, some plain truth and some hard, properly-thought-out action.
On a point of order. I should like your help on this matter, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) has spent the whole of his time in trying to denigrate this side of the House. May we be told whether this is merely a propaganda exercise, with no concern for the unemployed? The right hon. Gentleman has not said one word about how his party would deal with the situation.
Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to lead the House to believe that he intended to state his policies and then to prevent any of our interventions by suddenly sitting down, so that nobody could ask him a question? It was misleading the House.
The House as a whole seems to be substantially agreed on one point at any rate, and that is that the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) did not make a particularly constructive speech. He has certainly not given us a clear idea of what his party would do if it formed the Government.
Nevertheless, I am prepared to state straight away that we are in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman on one point, and that is that unemployment is a major social problem involving considerable personal distress and economic loss; and that it is a particularly difficult problem in the development areas and to those who are a long time on the register.
Unfortunately, the longer a man is on the register the longer he is likely to remain on it. On the other hand, two-thirds of the people who go on to the register leave it within four weeks—in other words, there is a considerable turnover of labour leaving behind it a core of long-term unemployed.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fall in the level of employment since 1966. There have always been variations in the level of employment, depending on the level of demand in the economy. At least, this time we have been controlling demand with some success and have achieved a major success on the balance of payments front. In the past, the extent of the variation— depending on demand—has been concealed, and was concealed, up to about 1965 by the expansion in the population of working age. Since 1965, the population of working age has been expanding very slowly and, therefore, the full effect of the variation in the level of demand has been shown.
This has been the ordinary cyclical effect and has been compounded by the secular rundown which is inevitable and necessary in employment in a whole series of major traditional industries in this country—such as mining and quarrying, metal manufacture, textiles, clothing, heavy electrical engineering, and shipbuilding. The rundown in shipbuilding would have been much more but for the Shipbuilding Act, passed by this Government.
However, the figures in 1966 with which the right hon. Gentleman compared the present employment figures, included, for example, 300,000 to 350,000 full-time students working part-time, but possessing national insurance cards. Today, the figure is almost certainly very much less. Since then, more men over the age of 65 and women over the age of 60 have retired though the fall in activity rates for men over 65 and women over 60 is no greater than in previous cycles.
There are 150,000 more people in full-time education. If one makes what I think is the fairer comparison than with the very high level of demand in 1966, if one takes 1964. which was a boom year and an election year, when the economy was stimulated for electoral purposes, and discounts that factor of additional people in education, the employment situation in the two years was much the same. In other words, the projections show a fairly stable working population as far ahead as can be seen.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to —and the Motion refers to—the high level of unemployment over a period of time. It is quite clear, and at one point the right hon. Gentleman came near lo accepting it, that the significance of the unemployment figures for the level of demand for labour was quite different from what it was before 1966. This is largely the effect of the introduction of redundancy payments and wage related unemployment benefits which were quite rightly introduced to ease the necessary process of redeployment of the labour force.
Those measures also had their effect on the unemployment figures. The effect of the redundancy payments system, so far as we can judge, is that people are more easily accepting redundancy, where necessary, and there has been considerable mobility from declining to developing industries. More than 900.000 people have so far received redundancy payments and the effect of wage-related benefits has been that people seem to be more selective in choosing jobs as regards, for example, the pay and conditions of employment which they will accept.
Quite a short extra time spent voluntarily on the register seeking a job can have a marked effect on the unemployment figures.
Prior to the implementation of the redundancy payments scheme the traditional way for the trade union movement to deal with redundancy was to adopt a "last in, first out" policy. But with the inception of redundancy payments there has been an element of voluntary redundancy at the older level. These people are going on the unemployment market and taking with them £400, £500, or £600 redundancy payments. Employers, particularly Tory employers, because they want to find some benefits when they are taking on new labour, will not look at this age group.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making this point, which supports what I am saying.
But does the right hon. Gentleman accept this? He said he accepted that it might be responsible for a small part of the problem, but I suspect that it is responsible for a large part of the problem. If it is, it is absurd to say, as the Motion does, that a crude comparison can be made today with the figures before 1966.
It may account for a small unknown part of the problem. But what it cannot account for is that in 1966 there were 82,300 unemployed for longer than six months and the last figure shows that that number had more than doubled to 167,300. That more than doubling in the long-term unemployed shows exactly what has been happening.
I have said that there are two main factors in the situation. One is the control over the level of demand which has had success for this country in securing a major balance of payments surplus. The second is the factor which I am now mentioning.
The question which the right hon. Gentleman has not answered is whether he accepts—-as I think the figures compel him to, if he is honest—that the introduction of the two measures to which I have referred has had a substantial effect on the unemployment figures. There is much other evidence for the fact that the figures today have an entirely different significance from previously for the amount of slack in the economy. First, there is the quantity of vacancies of which we have been notified. In the past, we had a large number of vacancies only in times of low unemployment. Alternatively, we had low vacancies at times of high unemployment. Now we are in a situation when the figure of vacancies is high at a time when the figures of unemployment are also high.
For example, in December, 1969, there was a high figure of 100,000 vacancies. I should emphasise that these are vacancies notified to our employment exchanges. They are not the full figures of vacancies. We know, for example, that whenever we have a trawl of employers to find other opportunities for employment, for example, where there is redundancy, we always get far more.
That high figure went along with a figure for wholly unemployed men of 470,000. In December, 1961, when there were 100,000 vacancies for men the number of wholly unemployed men was 250,000, just over half the December, 1959, figure. In other words, the 100,000 vacancies corresponded with unemployment figures of 250,000 in 1961, and 470,000 in December, 1969.
These vacancies are distributed all over the country. They are known to employment exchanges which are attempting to fill them with the people they know to be unemployed.
Further evidence of the change in the significance of the unemployment figure and of the level of demand is provided by the rapid rate of turnover in manufacturing industry, a rate typical in the past of much lower unemployment levels, and the extent of overtime working, and indeed the scarcity of short-time working.
An important part of the responsibility for dealing with this problem of high vacancies amidst high unemployment figures falls on our employment services. When we came into office we found that these services had been seriously run down by the Conservative Party. The number of staff directly employed on finding employment for adults able to be employed, which was 4,500 on 1st January, 1951, had been allowed to fall away by 1st January, 1958, to a figure of 3,200. There was then a slight recovery, because on 1st January, 1965, the figure was 3,500. We are building up the numbers in our employment services, and by 1st January, 1970, they had reached 5,000.
It is important to do this even in conditions of high vacancies and low unemployment, because there is a major economic gain to the country if one can fill jobs more rapidly. There is, therefore, no question of these employment services not being necessary at a time of low unemployment. We are increasing the number of staff involved, we are improving the management structure, and we have further plans which we shall bring before the House in due course. There is a large economic return on these services, and they should be expanded, and not neglected as they were under the Conservative Government.
The development of industrial training is another way in which we are tackling the problem of high vacancies as well as the national need for more trained workers. The training of skilled people is important. It helps them, and it helps to carry into employment with them semi-skilled and unskilled workers. Some industrialists in development areas have told me that the Government should stop encouraging new companies going to development areas. They say that there is no surplus of labour, particularly of skilled labour, and that they find it difficult already to recruit the people they want. I entirely reject that view. All that they are drawing attention to is one of the major structural problems of the development areas. A large number of people possess inadequate skills, redundant skills, or no skills at all.
I can understand the wish of some industrialists not to have more competition for the existing labour, but in the development areas we need this type of competition. It helps to persuade industry in the development areas, to train more people, and in the development areas there is a large pool of trainable people. That is why the Government have placed such emphasis on industrial training and have given particular emphasis to industrial training in the development areas. Here, too, we were faced with a long period of neglect by Conservative Governments, and I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman did not even mention this subject today.
One of the great tragedies of the postwar economic situation was the neglect by the Government of this country after 1951 of industrial training, particularly in manufacturing industry. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman was closely associated with this neglect. His report in 1958 on training for skill was hardly a clarion call to industrial training in this country. Rather, it reflected the complacent attitude of the time to industrial training. In 1962, when average unemployment in this country was 463,000, without the benefit of redundancy payments or wage-related benefits, the then Government had only 15 Government training centres left, and in that situation they shut down two of those.
It is true that after 12 wasted years of Tory neglect there came their deathbed repentance, the Industrial Training Act, and the beginning of the re-expansion of the Government training centres. But since this Government came into power we have continued with expansion under the Industrial Training Act. We have had expansion in the number of Government training centres, with emphasis on the development areas, because it is these areas which have the greatest resources of trainable labour. In October, 1964, there were 10 Government training centres serving the development areas. In January, 1970, that figure had risen to 21, and at the end of the present programme the figure will be 26.
There has been an expansion in the amount of grant for the training of industry in development areas, which is being extended to the intermediate areas. The annual rate of grant has been expanded nearly 10 times since the first two years of this Government. We have had expansion in the percentage of young people entering apprenticeships, even though more are going to universities and staying on at school. We are beginning sponsored training, a system of particular relevance to the special problems of the development areas, but also to the country generally.
The total output of the Government training centres in 1969 was about 12.000. This included about 40 per cent. of people who, when they went into training, were unemployed. In addition, there is the system of industrial training boards which train far larger numbers, and into which the extension of Government training centres injects an important element of flexibility.
Nevertheless, I accept that we need to find more ways of training unemployed people and increasing the number of unemployed people who are given training. This is something which was not done by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is something to which we need to give more attention than we have so far. As an example of a new development on which we are working, we are currently considering the introduction, where posible, in Government training centres of limited skill engineering classes for the unemployed. A major part of the problem exists in the development areas. Difficulties continue in the development areas, particularly in the Northern Region, but the overall position has improved relative to the country as a whole.
In addition to using Government training centres for training the unemployed, will my right hon. Friend consider using training colleges which have facilities available for this purpose?
I think that we should use everything that is available, and I shall look into that.
In mid-1964, as evidence of the overall relative improvement in the position in development areas, the rate of unemployment was 2·2 times that of Great Britain as a whole. By mid-1969 that relationship had fallen to 1·72. In other words, the relationship has improved despite the rapid run-down in traditional industries largely concentrated in the development areas. It was said, or implied, by the right hon. Gentleman that improvement had taken place only at a higher level of unemployment, but if what I have said about the change in significance in the unemployment figures is true, then the important point is the improvement in the relative position of the development areas.
Some of my hon. Friends say in their Amendment that more public enterprises should be set up in the development areas. They may not be satisfied with what has been done, but there are more public enterprises in the development areas than ever before. There is the aluminium smelter project which has been established with Government help. There is taking place a major dispersal of Government offices to the development areas. There is Government purchasing policy which gives a measure of preference to the development areas.
Will my right hon. Friend proceed to discuss the first important part of the Amendment; namely, that
Her Majesty's Government have not reduced unemployment by pursuing expansionist policies and by taking the most effective action to stimulate economic activity …?
Will he, before he sits down, deal primarily with the crux of this debate?
My hon. Friend, as usual, foresees the matters that I am going to come to, although he will no doubt appreciate also that I have not come to the Box this afternoon to make a Budget speech.
I can quite understand that my hon. Friends may think that the improvement is not fast enough but in a sense it can never be fast enough, and I, representing a development area, am very sensitive to the speed of improvement in this field. But it needs to be remembered that the investment grant system was introduced only in 1966 and therefore the differential in favour of the development areas also was only introduced in 1966 and the regional employment premium was only introduced in 1967. It has only been since this Government has been in power that the conduct of the industrial development certificate policy has been made really determined.
I am afraid one cannot change major structural deformations that have been with us for at least 40 years in the lifetime of a single Parliament, especially if the problems are compounded by the rapid run-down in employment in traditional industries. But we have made considerable progress and I am certain that it will not help to abolish the Measures which we have introduced and which are succeeding in assisting with the problems of the development areas.
The improvement in the relative position of the development areas will enable the economy to be run on a higher average level of demand with less waste of people and resources. We have been watching with some interest—and I had hoped the right hon. Gentleman might have told us something about it this afternoon—what really was decided at Selsdon Park about policies for the development areas. We are told that the Conservatives will abolish our measures even though evidently they accept that our measures have had the effect of influencing the location of investment in this country. They will phase out the regional employment premium, though they do not say exactly what that will mean. Does it mean that they are going to phase it out before the seven years to which we are committed? What are they going to do to assist the development areas? In particular, what are they going to do to counterbalance the capital-intensive nature of the investment allowance they intend to restore by a system paying some regard to employment? All this, which we might have expected to hear from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon in a debate devoted to unemployment, we have not heard. I hoped this would be part of the constructive policies which might have been developed before us, but he has not given us any insight into them.
Of course—here I come to the point which my hon. Friend has just raised—the short way with unemployment would be to raise the level of demand in the economy; but this, done too fast, could be the short way to unemployment through a balance of payments crisis. We must consolidate our balance of payments position, therefore, we must have priority for exports and investment as methods of raising demand and hence reducing unemployment. I am certain that investment particularly will flourish best against the background of a secure balance of payments and the prospect of steady growth. I am certain also that the prospects for investment could be damaged by suggestions of fundamental changes in or even the abolition of investment incentives such as we have heard recently from right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I come to my final point. The rate of unemployment in this country has been pretty stable since 1967, though, I agree, too high, particularly in the development areas. It is widely accepted, however, that the figures no longer have their former significance as to the level of demand for labour and that it has been sensible to control home demand while transferring resources to exports. Why, then, this censure debate now, after three years during which home demand has been kept under strict control to facilitate the switch in resources to the balance of payments? Why now when we have mastered the balance of payments problem, when we have created a basis for expansion, when the success of our economic policies has become apparent? Perhaps because right hon. Gentlemen opposite have suddenly become concerned about the level of unemployment in what they think to he an election year.
During the past two years, contrary to previous cycles, we have had growth and a remarkable improvement in the balance of payments. This is the basis on which to build, keeping both objectives—growth and the balance of payments—well in hand. A major aim of the Government on both economic and social grounds is to cut unemployment and maintain full employment on a secure and lasting basis. The policies of the Government are those best designed to achieve this, and I ask the House to support the Government.
I wish to speak to the House this afternoon very briefly and entirely uncontro versially. I want to focus the attention of hon. Members and those taking part in this debate on the economic difficulties which Northern Ireland is facing at the present time, so shortly after the political difficulties which occurred in 1969. As I say, I hope to make an uncontroversial speech.
I remind the House of the figures: 7·4 per cent. unemployed; 9·5 per cent. men without a job; 1,200 jobs lost since Christmas. These are some of the basic facts of the situation. What are the reasons behind them?
My hon. Friend has referred to the economic climate for which the Government here are responsible. I do not intend to dwell on that this afternoon, but there is no doubt in my mind that one of the major reasons for the economic difficulties which we are facing at the moment is a direct result of the riots and destruction of 1969. I hope that it will be possible for the House to rise to the occasion this afternoon and give its help to Northern Ireland.
The effect of these disturbances is that it is very difficult now for the Northern Ireland Government to attract new industry. There have been a number of job announcements recently, but I wish to emphasise one point about jobs in the pipeline, jobs which would be coming along and employing men and women in 18 months' or two years' time. These are not being attracted at present, so there is a difficult problem a little way ahead.
The effect has been noticeable on existing industry. I talked a moment ago of 1,200 jobs lost since Christmas time. I refer, also, to the cutting-back in the investment programme of very many of the existing firms. I refer to Short Brothers, in which the Minister of Technology has taken a great interest, and I hope that later in the debate, or soon afterwards, he will be able to say something of the plans for the financial reorganisation of that firm, as there is great concern about this among those employed in it.
I hope that the catalogue I have given will convince the House of the grave damage that has been done by the political disturbances in the streets last year, and I say this afternoon to both sides—Protestant and Catholic, Unionist and Republican—that they should beware lest by their actions on the streets they put Northern Ireland's economic position in jeopardy. They should be very careful indeed of the consequences of their acts.
I say this, also, to industrialists who have been holding back on investment. On television last year, they saw much of the disturbances, but these were, of course, in limited areas, although I am not for one moment attempting to underestimate their effect. The general picture was that industry was not greatly affected and that people had continued at work and were getting on well with their fellow workers.
I gave some figures when I was in the United States. About 19,000 jobs are the direct result of American investment in Northern Ireland totalling 200 million dollars. I was able to tell the Americans that not a single hour had been lost because of the unrest during last summer. I also remind the House that the men in the shipyard joined together in pledging themselves not to take part in this madness. It is worth making the point a thousandfold that men at work with a good job and a stake in the community are much less likely to cause trouble. That is the essential dilemma which I put to the House. If more jobs are brought to Northern Ireland, there will be less unrest and trouble in the streets, but if there is unrest and trouble in the streets, there is less likelihood of attracting more jobs to Ulster. That is the fundamental dilemma.
The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland will be seeing the Home Secretary and other British Ministers tomorrow. I ask the Government here to join with the Northern Ireland Government in substantial measures to promote economic advance, to provide new jobs and to provide industrial assistance to Northern Ireland, because that is the most constructive contribution that they can make at present not only to solving our economic problems, but to getting us back to normal as a community.
I was gratified to hear from my hon. Friend the Minister of State a reference in his peroration to full employment. It was rather nostalgic, because it is several years since we talked about full employment, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology will give the official Government definition of full employment for the present and the future.
The phrase "full employment" passed into misuse when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister changed it to "equalisation of differentials in the regions". That was supplemented by various other remarks equally incomprehensible to those of us who had pinned our flag of full employment to the mast in our constituencies.
In the debate on the Address, not so very long ago, employment was referred to not in terms of full employment, but in terms that the Government would "safeguard" employment, although we were not told at what level. In the debate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology said:
As exports rise the demand for labour will increase."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd November, 1969; Vol. 790, c. 775.]
Now we are in a position where, happily, our exports have reached record levels. At the same time, our unemployment has also reached record levels. Although it has been gratifying to hear about the amount of money, time and work which has been put into the special
development areas, we should consider whether much of the work has been worth while. I have figures here published in HANSARD on 24th June last. They show that, in the special development areas over the years from April, 1964, to April, 1969, these special efforts resulted in almost a doubling of unemployment. That is so for Scotland, Wales and the Northern Region.
Anyone interested can see the figures going up from 7,931 in April, 1964, to 15,576 in April, 1969. There may well have been a grand expansion of modern development in these special development areas, but the number of unemployed has, unfortunately, practically doubled.
It is true that the unemployed no longer march on London and no longer petition their Members of Parliament for work. They are being paid to keep quiet. While this may be all right for the political climate of the country, I cannot think that it is all right for its economic life to have so many people anxious and willing to work, anxious to contribute to the economic prosperity of the country, but paid to sit idly by and do nothing. Since they are being paid only slightly less in most cases than they would get if they were at work, they are still consuming to the same extent as they would be if they were at work, although if they were at work they would be consuming the wealth they were producing themselves.
Unfortunately, my constituency is not in a special development area. We have only recently succeeded in getting it put into the schedule of grey areas. In one part of the constituency, called Thorne, I have been comparing the figures over the last few years. In October, 1964, there were 360 unemployed. In October, 1969, there were 1,075. The last figure I have, for 29th January last, shows that there were 1,205 registered as unemployed. That means between 11 and 12 per cent.
It is difficult to calculate the exact percentage, because there has been a little statistical shuffle in the area. My heavily unemployed area has been amalgamated for statistical purposes with two other areas where the unemployment figures are not so high, and then an average has been taken. So I am told that the figure is about 4 or 5 per cent., whereas, in accordance with the working population registered in the area, it would be not far short of 12 per cent. In Goole, the major town in my constituency, the unemployment figure is a clear straightforward 5·7 per cent. and is the worst for 10 years.
The fact that it is the worst for 10 years is rather striking, because I have raised the question of unemployment in the area on a number of occasions. I have had sympathetic replies from various Ministers. I had one from my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough), when he was a Minister, in reply to a Question of mine about unemployment. I would like to quote what he said:
I will give second place to no man in this House or in this country in my determination to try to resolve this problem not only in the North-East but wherever it occurs. No society can call itself civilised if it stands idly by and sees young boys or adults rotting away without knowing the satisfaction of earning their living and the dignity and self-respect which comes from that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th June, 1969; Vol. 784, c. 223.]
Unfortunately, my hon. Friend has been moved from his position. It rather reminds me of King Edward VIII who, going into the depressed areas and being moved into making statements somewhat similar, was removed from his position, too.
The Minister of Technology tells us that we must accept more unemployment as the price of the technological white heat revolution which he is bringing about in the country. The late Ernest Bevin, who knew something about the working class of this country, said, in December, 1943, in discussing what would happen after the war:
It is not enough merely to say that this country is going to be poor … Tnis country will not be able for the next 50 years to afford an unemployed man."—[OFFICIAL RFPORT, 10th December, 1943; Vol. 395, c. 1349.]
I should think that was sound commonsense with the rebuilding, the reshaping —of our towns and cities, our agriculture and our industries that is necessary. Of course, Ernie Bevin knew nothing then about the activities of the Minister of Technology.
I am listening with keen attention to my hon. Friend. However, I do not recall his earlier quotation of me. I am sure that it is not a quotation. Nor am I conscious that my Department is responsible for the technical changes going on in industry or the consequences thereof.
I was not directly quoting my right hon. Friend. I was translating from Oxford University Debating Society English into plain English what my right hon. Friend said in November in the debate on the Queen's Speech. If he will look at what he said, the implications were very near to the Luddite philosophy of many years ago, that the introduction of more technology, more machinery and more scientific application to modern industry would inevitably bring more unemployment. I think that that is a fair summary of what my right hon. Friend said during that debate.
We are told by our constituents—and I was told only this weekend—that a large number of people are today getting far more money for not working than if they were working. I asked for names and addresses, which they were reluctant to give. But I am sure that in every working-class constituency there are streets in which this kind of thing is said and where people can point to neighbours who are receiving more for being idle than if they were working.
This was denied when it was brought up in the House on a number of occasions and similar accusations were made. Unfortunately, the Government at that time were not prepared to accept these criticisms and the facts. But we all know that there are a number of these people—scroungers—and that they do not bring popularity to the Government or to their humane schemes for seeing that those who have no work are maintained.
Public opinion polls, as well as the by-elections, should be a warning to the Government. In 1964 and 1966 Government spokesmen claimed that we would do unpopular things. The Government may claim that they have certainly succeeded in that. But I am hoping that, as this is supposed to be election year, we shall see a change.
I take comfort from the fact that, in his Swansea speech, the Prime Minister said:
We shall not seek, as others did, to sweep these issues under the carpet for electoral reasons, to pretend they are not there. We shall identify, publish, educate, act.
I hope that in this election year we will get action for an expansionist policy to develop the wealth of the country and to put to work those men and women, and juniors, who are only too anxious to earn their own living.
I find myself in almost complete sympathy with everything that the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. George Jeger) said in his able speech. He talked of full employment and the fact that we had moved away from the definition of it given, I think, by the late Hugh Gaitskell. We were much nearer achieving Mr. Gaitskell's assessment of full employment during the 13 years of Conservative Administration than we have been in the last five or six years.
I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Goole that, although there may be some immediate apparent advantage in paying unemployed people to keep quiet, unemployment is highly deplorable and and that many of those who may be being paid to keep quiet at this time hate being unemployed and would do anything to have a job. I hope that the Government fully realise this.
I share the hon. Gentleman's regret at the departure from office of the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough), who, I am pleased to see, is now in his place. As a north-eastern Member, he is fully aware of the severe problem still facing the area which we both attempt to represent.
I find it strange indeed that we should have a Minister supposedly responsible for the North-East who is not in his place for this debate, partly because he is directly connected with employment and unemployment and partly because, as always, the North-East has the biggest problem in the whole country in this regard. As the Minister responsible for employment and as a north-eastern Member, he should be in his place. It is amazing that he is not.
The Minister of State talked about unemployment in development areas still being too high. It certainly is. He also talked about vacancies all over the country. There is a great shortage of jobs in my region, about which I shall have something to say. The right hon. Gentleman also talked about industrial training. I hope to mention something about that, too, particularly the problem of sponsored training.
I violently disagree with the right hon. Gentleman's final words. He suggested that it is only in election year that hon. Members on this side of the House have had an interest in and an awareness of unemployment. This is untrue. I have taken part in debate after debate on unemployment whilst we have been in opposition, and here we go again.
I will give way in a moment.
May I say, in answer to the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson), that we were castigated constantly when in office for not being able to plan in this regard. The planners have had their chance, they have had their day, and a fine old mess they have made of it.
When the hon. Gentleman says that the problem was not so big under the Tories as it is now, I hope that he will exclude from that argument Scotland, where, while we are dissatisfied with the present figures, in the early 1960s unemployment rose as high as 136,000.
This is a fair comment. I shall refer to the slightly improved position in Scotland presently.
On whether it was better or worse, I do not think that we can get very far, except that in the North-East—and it is in that region where the problem is greater than anywhere else in the country —the only year when we have managed to achieve the 15,000 new jobs a year which the North-East Development Council determined were needed to replace redundant jobs in industry, was 1964, the year immediately after we lost office; in other words, due to the actions of a Conservative Government.
I repeat that nowhere is unemployment more acute than in the Northern Region, which carries 10 per cent. of the total unemployment in the country despite having only 4·8 per cent. of the total work force. If this does not emphasise the problem to Ministers, it jolly well should do. In the North-East as a whole there are 13 unemployed men for every vacancy. Bad though it is, the national position is not nearly as bad as that. Nationally, there are only four unemployed men for every job vacant.
When we break down the North-East into areas, the problem becomes very acute. On Wearside—I am very pleased to see the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) in his place—there are 59 unemployed men for every vacant place. In South-East Northumberland there are 40, in South-East Durham there are 53, in The Hartlepools there are 43, and on the North Yorkshire Coast—not so far from the constituency of Goole—there are no fewer than 101 unemployed men for every vacant job. On Tyneside, which I principally represent, the heart of a great industrial area where the position should be very good, there are 15 unemployed men for every vacant job.
Despite our particularly bad position in the North-East, we are still receiving £48 per head in public investment, whereas Scotland, which has an improved position—1 per cent. lower unemployment—still receives £62 per head. The Secretary of State for Scotland, with his usual bland optimism in which we can never quite believe, said recently that Scotland had now reached the stage when she could be selective in her new industry. I very much doubt whether Scotland is in such a favourable position, but the lesson which we must learn is that, if Scotland can be selective, the North-East would still be glad of anything at all.
Before commenting on what is basically wrong with our position, I appeal to the Government to have the courage to accept the general Hunt proposal that a degree of descheduling, where this has become possible, must be undertaken. I know that this will take electoral courage, but only by so doing can the worst areas get the aid which they now urgently require.
The position of the Northern Region worsens. In 1968, 11·1 million square feet of factory space was approved and 3 million completed. In 1969, 9 million square feet was approved, despite the fact that our unemployment has risen, and an enormous amount of financial aid has been poured into the regions. But our case has been and continues to be that it is not being poured in to the best effect, that aid must be more selective if it is to do good quickly. After all, the case for the regional employment premium was that it would solve the unemployment problem quickly. It has not done so. We appeal to the Government to recognise this basic fact.
I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. He seemed to be arguing at one point that we urgently need still more Government intervention and aid to ensure the industry, and I agree with him. But, on the other hand, he says that we must be more selective, that we need, as his party has said, to cut out a large part of the existing aid.
No, I am suggesting that the aid which is being given is being given in the wrong way in most cases—not in every case, of course—and that the aid which we need is not necessarily additional financial aid.
Taking men only in the Northern Region, of 52,000 unemployed men only 8,000 are registered as craftsmen. This is a major problem with regard to training. There is an urgent need for a review of training requirements. I would point out to the Minister, the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell), who says that our awareness of the unemployment problem is a new one, that over and over again I have pleaded for a particular and special review of the skill requirements of particularly new industry in the North-East. There is an urgent need also, particularly in shipbuilding and heavy engineering, for a lifting of the union restrictions on the entry of trainees which still exists in some cases.
The hon. Member talked of our having failed to do enough with regard to industrial training. But amazingly high barriers were placed against us by union restriction of entry of trainees into crafts. Second, it is well worth recalling—[Interruption.] If hon. Members do not agree with me on that, they may agree with my second reason—that, in our days, not nearly so many people were unemployed. There was a time—this can be checked by hon. Members—when I entered the House about 12 years ago, when the 699 Government training places could not be filled in the North-East because we had then, comparatively, virtually full employment.
But those days are far behind us. There is now an enormous immediate training problem. I appeal to the Government for immediate consideration to be given to all aspects of Government training, particularly to a training payment on an earnings-related basis. Far too many men, I find from my researches during the Recess and at other times, still fear losing money if they go into training. This should not and must not be.
A major cause of unemployment in the Northern Region or anywhere else is the failure of the Government's economic policy. It is nothing short of scandalous that, first of all, the Prime Minister, in various parts of the country and various parts of the world, and, second, his Ministerial colleagues, should claim that economic restriction has managed to allow this country to turn the corner economically. It is suppression that is the main trouble in the North-East—not lack of financial aid, but suppression of industry and of smaller business. It is rigid financial control which is heavily curtailing financial investment. We have severe deflation in the North-East and only by a measure of reflation can there be any hope of getting back to a reasonable level of employment.
Industry and business generally in my region is short in liquidity and, in consequence, in investment. The Government's rigid control has had some very unfortunate effects. I am sure that several north-eastern Members opposite will agree with me that it is nothing short of tragic that Crowborough Engineering, of Aycliffe, is to close its doors. It is obvious that this firm and innumerable others could be readjusted, rejigged and retooled, and re-employed, if they had the money to carry them over an adaptation period. But in big and small business, this is the great problem—with Bank Rate at its present level, and the unavailability of capital, it is impossible for firms to have any employment at all. This is the biggest trouble of all.
It is a far cry from the days when I was a back bencher on the other side of the House and we used to be castigated and told that we could not plan. The self-righteous critics of those days have had their chance and have hopelessly failed. The Northern Echo summed up the position perfectly when it said in a leader this morning:
The number of unemployed men in the North-East of England was 21,000 higher in January, 1970, than it was in January, 1960.
We could not have a more concise condemnation of Labour's hopeless policies for the development areas.
My great fear now is that this discredited Government, who dare not go to the country, will hang on for too long. The Prime Minister has a Macawber outlook, but the unemployed of the North-East realise that something will not just turn up. The only hope we have is for a General Election to take place. We pray that it will come soon.
It is evident from the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Conservatives do not have an answer to the problem we are discussing. They have never had an answer to it, and their remarks are totally irrelevant to this debate. Considering that they took the initiative in calling the debate, it is surprising that they have nothing to say to resolve this problem.
While we have great respect for my right hon. Friend who has spoken and for the Minister of Technology, who is to reply to the debate, they are not the appropriate Ministers to deal with this subject, for this is first and foremost a matter for the Treasury. Treasury policy has brought us to the present position and is maintaining the current rate of unemployment. Only a change in Treasury policy will reverse the present sad state of affairs and give an impetus to the removal of the growing unemployment problem.
Reference has been made to pockets of high unemployment, and the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) spoke of the situation in Northern Ireland. The unemployed are certainly not invisible. One need only go to the areas of high unemployment such as Northern Ireland to see their plight. We appreciate the high rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland, but I assure the hon. Member for Belfast, North that it has not arisen because of, or since, the disturbances of last summer.
When I was in Straban and Derry two or three years ago male unemployment was running at 29 per cent., this in an area in which the Ulster Government had refused to establish a new university and which the Ulster Unionists had patently neglected, despite the efforts to improve matters through the use of grants. I agree that the removal of Northern Ireland's unemployment problem would, in turn, remove the main causes of the other problems of the country.
I recall being in Derry at the time of the riots behind the barricades in the Bogside. A man in his late twenties said, "I agree with all you say, Mr. Orme, but, for heaven's sake, give us some jobs. We need 6,000 jobs in this part of Ireland." That is the crux of the problem and the stark reality of the situation in Northern Ireland. It is also the problem in other parts of Great Britain.
I acknowledge that the Government have given various benefits, such as wage-related payments and redundancy benefits, to cushion the severe effects of unemployment, effects which those who recall the days prior to the war do not want to see repeated. This cushioning has in some ways made the problem less obvious, we must not forget, however, that the country is suffering from a level of unemployment that it is intolerable. Do not let us forget the indignity caused by this problem.
We now seem to accept a high level of unemployment. It was only in July, 1966, before the Government's famous or infamous measures of 20th July of that year, that 264,000 people were unemployed. Contrast that with today's figure of 620,000; and if we add the Northern Ireland unemployment figure, we find we have close on 670.000 people unemployed in Great Britain. We cannot be complacent about this and it is not sufficient for the Government, in addition to hon. Gentlemen opposite, to ignore what really needs to be done.
Little seems to have come from the Selsdon Park conference, about which we heard so much. The unemployed cannot take comfort from that meeting, and I trust that they will take note of what was said—or should I say, what was not said—by the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr).
Many of my hon. Friends are concerned about the philosophy that it is impossible to run a modern economic technological society without a measure of unemployment or under-employment. Such a philosophy is wrong. It has not always been Government philosophy. For example, the Labour Party's 1964 election manifesto, said
The aims are simple enough. We want full employment, a faster rate of industrial expansion and a sensible distribution of industry throughout the country.
It went on:
That can be secured only by a deliberate and massive effort to modernise the economy, change its structure and develop with all possible speed the advanced technologies and new science-based industries in which our future lies. In short, that will be achieved only by Socialist planning.
I recall the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) constantly attacking the Labour Party for being Socialist in its planning. I wish that he had some Socialist policies to attack now in relation to the problem which we are discussing. My right hon. Friend referred to smelter plants and so on, but when we envisaged the policy outlined in the 1964 manifesto we had in mind the creation of a number of science-based industries that would be publicly-owned.
Why need we be so vulnerable about the question of giving money to employers which, in many instances, they put into capital-intensive machinery instead of using it to create employment? Why should we give money in this way when we are told in reports of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries that it sometimes costs £10,000 to create one job in the development areas? Why cannot we put that money into publicly-owned industries? Why do we go to the expense of building factories, equipping them with machinery and giving the equivalent of £10 per worker when we do not take the ultimate step of controlling the plant and directing the industry, particularly in areas of high unemployment? Perhaps the Minister of Technology could address himself to this point because it is germane to what we are discussing.
The kernel of this issue is in the Amendment which my hon. Friends and I have suggested to this Motion. In line 1, leave out from 'House' to end and add:
'whilst conscious of the fact that the Opposition's policies on unemployment have always been, and are, disastrous to the nation, regrets that Her Majesty's Government have not reduced unemployment by pursing expansionist policies and by taking the most effective action to stimulate economic activity in the development areas; and calls upon the Government to accept the proposals of the Trades Union Congress for expanding the economy, and to reinforce the creation of jobs in the development areas by adopting the Labour Party policy of setting up public enterprises in those areas'.
The kernel to the problem is growth and expansion, developing our economy and allowing growth to take place in Britain. This can be done. It would utilise the energies of people at present unemployed. They could be engaged on productive work creating the wealth which the country needs. The country could have some control over that wealth, and it would not be inflationary nor destructive in itself to create that wealth. I do not believe that a 6 per cent. growth in a modern country such as Britain is beyond our capacity. It is our job to make that possible.
I emphasise the resolution carried at the Labour Party conference last October and the continuous pressure on economic development which the T.U.C. has been putting on the Government over the last two or three years. If anyone has spoken common sense on this matter, it is the T.U.C. We have only to look at the economic reviews for 1968 and 1969, which called for a measure of growth, economic development and full employment. They pointed also to ways in which the Government might deal with some of the accrued wealth which would come about when that growth had been achieved. Only by that form of growth can we get out of the stagnation which now exists.
I see that once again the workers are to be blamed for any faults which may occur, or appear to occur, in the economy. We had a very timely reference this morning from our old friend, Sir Leslie O'Brien, Governor of the Bank of England. Once again "the workers' friend"
has spoken to the nation. Last night, it is reported, he
issued a stern warning about the damage wage inflation could do to Britain's hopes of economic recovery".
I should have thought that a person of Sir Leslie's standing and knowledge would be able to countenance a policy of high wages, high investment, high productivity, without having to resort to the language of the 1920s and 1930s. His remarks were again indicative of the thinking in the City. Unfortunately, they are reflected in the Treasury at present.
The right hon. Member for Mitcham quoted Mr. Victor Feather in support of his argument about a high level of unemployment. Mr. Feather has been very forthright in that regard. We could quote a little more of what Mr. Feather has said on this question. In an interview with the industrial correspondent of Tribune only last week he said:
If the total number of unemployed people was cut by 200.000, there would be a gain of 50 million working days a year—seven times the number of days lost through strikes.
He went on to say:
We think that the growth rate should be increased from 2 to 3 per cent. in any case and that there ought then to be an extra 2 per cent. if the unemployment total is to be brought down to 400,000. I am not saying that 400,000 is a satisfactory—it should be a speedy target.
Mr. Feather went on to develop that theme. Many of my hon. Friends and I consistently since 1966, have put forward an alternative economic strategy on the whole front with reference to economic policy. We do not believe that the god of balance of payments should be considered above all other objectives. However important balance of payments may be, there are other priorities, and we have to state them. It is for the Labour Government to insist on full employment. If the Government cannot stand up for it, the Conservative Party certainly cannot.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) knows better perhaps than any other hon. Member, if we had growth there would be a great effect on the building industry which is so badly hit at present. Building workers would be employed to reach the housing target to which the Government are pledged. There are hospitals, schools and factories to be built. It is no good posing the issue of high wages as detrimental to the economy. What the nurses, Health Service workers, teachers and Ford motor car workers are asking for is not out of line with what can be paid by our society. This is not an avalanche of wage claims. It would give incentive to management, create efficiency and high productivity and the wealth that is needed.
I agree with much of what the hon. Member is saying, but he has told us that his remedy would be a Socialist remedy. Is not what he has recommended, an expansion of building and so on, a Liberal remedy which was put forward back in 1929?
I have a great personal regard for the hon. Member, but I think that is a little irrelevant to the points I am making.
I do not come from a development area, but the problem of unemployment is one of concern for us all. Those who are not in development areas and do not have to face this problem should say something about it. We have a duty to do that. This issue touches the very heart strings of the Labour movement. Full employment is something we have fought for a lifetime to achieve and something which many of our forefathers thought unachievable. It seemed that we would never reach a situation in which we could say there was full employment. For a period after the war it was quite unthinkable to suggest creating unemployment. Now we seem to be slipping into a situation in which those who advise Governments, the Treasury and the City, suggest that a measure of slack in the economy in the form of unemployment is essential to development. I reject that entirely.
If we cannot find a way of managing the economy without creating unemployment we in the Labour Party are not fit to call ourselves Socialists. I believe we can find a way. The Government must change their policy. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will say something this afternoon about that and about the removal of some restrictions and the effect which that would have in allowing expansion and development. That might create some problems and difficulties for tidy-minded economists, but these are problems to be grappled with—problems of full employment, not under-employment or large-scale unemployment.
I hope that this debate, which started as some form of non-event, will come to life and that the Government will recognise that we on the back benches, although we say critical things, say them in the interests of those we represent and of the policy which we expect our Government to carry out. We consider the Tories are irrelevant on this subject, but the Labour Government are not. We demand action from our Government.
I shall not try to deal with the points raised by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme). We all recognise the honesty of his approach to the problem but, despite his devastating indictment of his own Government, cannot go along with his Socialist argument.
I compliment my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) on the facts and figures he has given, which are unarguable. Unemployment has reached a level which none of us can find acceptable. I do not represent a constituency with a major unemployment problem, but I fear the consequences of the Government's incompetence over the unemployment situation and their total lack of ideas on the present and future number of jobs available in this country. They seem to have lost understanding of the impact of higher education within the Western world on primary and manufacturing industries. There can be no question but that it is from this that stems the idea of capital intensive industries and modernisation which will, in a capital-intensive industry, reduce the number of jobs on the factory floor but create many other jobs in ancillary industries.
Perhaps the Minister has already recognised this, but it is strange to me that the Government have handed out large sums of taxpayers' money in incentives and investment grants to industries that do not need them, industries with not great ability and industries that are often unprofitable, and at the same time have introduced selective employment tax, which had the primary objective of trying to move people from service industries into manufacturing industries. Selective employment tax has made many people unemployed, because the jobs were not available in manufacturing industries. Perhaps the people most affected were the older ones who had small but important jobs in service industries which made life better not only for them but for all of us.
We must recognise that there will be an ever-increasing number of jobs in the ancillary and service industries, and it is in those industries that we should be getting a greater promotion of employment. In those industries we can also seek to have a much higher standard of living because it is in them that we can obtain a greater enjoyment of living, particularly in entertainment.
Another point concerns industrial development certificates. In the West Midlands conurbation they are fairly hard to obtain. Even if one manages to get one, it takes a long time to do it. There has been, and is, encouragement to export jobs from the West Midlands to other parts. I believe that in one year 83,000 jobs were exported. That is a very good record, but I fear for the future because the new industries based on science and electronics are being encouraged to set up in the development areas. That is fair enough, because we all recognise that the development areas want more jobs, but if this goes on to a great extent in places such as the West Midlands in 20 years' time all the new industries will have gone to Scotland and the North, and in the West Midlands we shall have decaying or even dead industries. I hope that not only the Government but the Conservative Party will look well ahead in their employment policy and policy for the labour force.
Another new phenomenon is that people now talk quite freely about equal pay for equal work, but I believe that it is recognised that in service industries women with special skills will be able to earn considerably more than many men. Are we to have to look to new sociological ideas? Will women be the greater earners in many cases, and therefore the important breadwinners? Can we visualise a society in which many men will stay at home doing the chores and looking after the family? With the growth of service industries, this is a valid point, and it could also do great damage to the National Superannuation and Social Insurance Bill.
The Government have no ability to deal with the unemployment problem, and show little idea of what they should be doing in the future. Their alleviation of some of the present problem by doling out large sums of taxpayers' money to the jobless does not do any good for the country and does much harm to many of the jobless, particularly when it is found that after the comfort of being sustained they cannot take on further employment. There are far too many jobless and far too few in training for jobs. The Minister of State gave a figure of, I believe, 12,000 newly trained people last year, but that is far too few. Hon. Members on both sides will agree that training boards will never train anyone by merely issuing a vast series of pamphlets.
There is one answer to the unemployment problem, and that is for the Government to get out, and get out fast, and lot a competent Administration take over.
One becomes accustomed in the House to hearing Opposition spokesmen speaking of "What you promised and what you have done", but I must agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) that what was said from the Front Bench opposite today was completely irrelevant.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State did not give the impression that his heart was completely in the brief he was presenting to the House. I appreciate his difficulties. I suppose that the most popular thing to say at a juncture like this is that we should expand the economy irrespective of the consequences. Many of my hon. Friends have expressed this view in the House. I ask them to bear in mind that that is exactly what the Tories did before an election. Are my hon. Friends asking us to adopt the same policies as were tried in 1963? I hope not. In 1963 they succeeded in overheating the economy.
Is not my hon. Friend aware that my hon. Friends and I have been putting forward since the package of July 1966 an alternative economic strategy? We are not asking for something new. We are asking the Government to accept rather belatedly what we have been arguing should have been done a long time ago.
I accept what my hon. Friend says—he has been consistent in his arguments all the way through—but whether what he has argued for over the past three years would have succeeded in getting the balance of payments right is another matter. Whilst I am appalled at the unemployment figures, I must he quite honest and say that in our economy there have been no restrictions on how many people are employed as long as the employment has gone into the correct industries, and the majority has gone into exports. I believe that this policy has been necessary, but whether it has been carried too far is another matter.
I do not believe that the Government have been given enough credit for what they have done in this regard over the past few years. I speak as a Member for one of the Liverpool constituencies, where at present one out of 25 people is unemployed. This is an increase, and one which anyone must deprecate.
But what is the answer? We have at last succeeded after great efforts in getting the balance of payments put into credit. We are in a position where, if we were completely dishonest, the Government could take off the reins and give a booming economy for the next 12 months which might secure their return. I know that some people say that we should do that. There can be argument on that point. But I respect the leaders of my party and believe that, although they know that this is a possibility and it is a great temptation, they will not fall into it. I do not wish them to take off the reins and let the economy boom in order to be returned to office because that would be dishonest and would be a betrayal of the people. For three years now we have endured certain restrictions which have pressed heavily on many aspects of the community.
Are we, in order to sweeten the pill for an election, going to throw away all these advantages? It would be dishonest to do so. But I believe that there are other things which should and could be done, particularly in those areas with high unemployment. Merseyside is not the worst of the development areas and let us not forget that, last year, the amount of money poured into Merseyside by the Government was about £80 million. Without that, what would the problem have been in Merseyside?
I believe that we do not concentrate sufficiently on the hard core of unemployed. It is true—although I do not accept what my hon. Friend said with quite so much enthusiasm—that there are people on the unemployment register who are there because they have a longer time to look around them because of the redundancy payments and the wage-related unemployment benefits. But it remains a fact that there are still many people who cannot get a job when they want to. We should try to concentrate on the fact that many of the hard core of the unemployed are people who have come out of work at a later stage in life. I understand that 18 per cent. of the unemployed are over the age of 55. But that is young in a working man's life. People live to 70, or 80 or 90 these days. Are we to talk about people being on the scrap heap at 55?
Where my hon. Friend's Department has failed is in not recognising the hard core of unemployment as a particular problem in the various areas. I believe that some of those people at the age of 55 are perfectly capable of being trained for a job which can bring them another 10 years of remunerative work.
This is not, of course, a one-sided problem. I attended a ports conference last Friday in Liverpool. It was stated that there is a shortage of labour on the docks in Liverpool. At the same time, dockers there are not unnaturally concerned about redundancies in relation to containerisation. But the days of the docker as a purely manual worker are going out. He is becoming a technician. Is it not possible for my hon. Friend, in discussion with these people, to say to the dockers, "Would you take another 200 or 300 people who have reached the age of 50 to 55 and train them to become dockers in this new technical age? Can you not afford another 300 in your scheme, although you have closed your books and say you will not allow more in?" I do not believe that the dockers of Liverpool would reject it out of hand. If a plan were put to them—and it may involve only 300 in this industry and perhaps 300 in another—this sort of approach would succeed. It should certainly be made because we seem to have all the statistics of numbers but not the statistics of human beings—what sort of jobs they require and what sort they can be trained for. We must break down these statistics into the categories of work the people concerned are capable of doing.
In areas where there is above average unemployment, the Government must be flexible. About 5,000 construction workers are out of work in Merseyside. What about releasing some money for renovating some of these old down-town schools which are a disgrace to the community? I do not believe that the system of merely giving out contracts to Merseyside generally in order to alleviate unemployment necessarily works, because all that happens is that firms which now cannot get jobs done which they already have fall further back by taking on further contracts. Contracts should be given to particular firms who are prepared to take on extra people to perform these tasks. They should not just be given to firms which may fall down on the job or may take six months or a year less than others.
I am convinced that if the Department were to examine these things not as figures but as human beings, considering how these people can be employed, in Liverpool alone we could cut the number of unemployed and, what is more important, divert them into industries which would not produce things purely for home market consumption. I know that the fear of the Department and of the Treasury is that we might start a spree of buying which would raise the import bill and knock the balance of trade the other way. But the points I have indicated, if followed through, could considerably help to alleviate unemployment without that danger.
I have been surprised to hear hon. Members opposite saying that we have not revealed our policy on unemployment. We are, after all, debating a Motion referring to the Government's failure to deal with the problem in that we are in the longest continuous period of high unemployment since the war, and we remind the House in our Motion of the promises made by the Prime Minister which have been unfulfilled.
I make no apology for giving a regional, if not a practically parochial, view of this matter. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) stated in his excellent speech that the facts are stark and simple. This is true certainly in the South-West. I hope that the Minister of Technology, coming from Bristol, will bear in mind that in the South-West for the month of January there were 42,569 jobless. This is a record for any month since the last war. As a newcomer to the area, having come from the relatively prosperous West Midlands, it is my impression that, in this as in many other things, the South-West does not seem to be getting its fair share of the cake.
I will also be utterly parochial in referring to the affairs of Weston-superMare, a typical seaside resort. In doing so, I shall no doubt draw attention to the unemployment problems of many seaside resorts. It is an important industry, although perhaps different from those we have been discussing. In January of this year the unemployment figure for Weston was 4·8 per cent. I admit that this is substantially better than many of the unfortunate cases about which we have heard. It is, however, with the exception of the bad winter of 1963, the highest percentage of the last ten years by a very long chalk.
In our last year of office there were just over 700 people unemployed in the January. This has now risen to 970. In June the unemployment rate has almost doubled and we have had 670 unemployed in what should be a prosperous seaside town. I have had pathetic letters from youngsters wanting jobs in the summer holidays but unable to get them.
My town council applied for intermediate area status. It based its claim on these facts but was refused on the grounds that although our unemployment was serious and substantially higher than the regional and national average —and remember the regional average for January was 3·2 per cent. and the national average 2·7 per cent. while ours was 4·8 per cent.—the figures did not justify such a step. The Ministry compared our figures with that of the South-West development areas and said that they were worse off than we were. It pointed out, and this probably applies to many hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, on both sides of the House, that we have a substantially higher proportion of over-50s and over-60s than the national average. Surely these people are just as entitled to a job, just as entitled to be considered, as any others? I am highly suspicious that there will be some manipulation of the figures in future to exclude these elderly folk from the unemployment figures.
When the hon. Gentleman gives these figures for unemployment in towns such as Weston, would he confirm that there is included in them the number of professional people such as bank managers and others who have retired at 60 and registered for unemployment benefit for 18 months?
Yes. I understand that these figures are included and have been quite specifically given in helpful information supplied by the Minister. To reply to the hon. Gentleman, I was talking only last week to a gentleman who had retired and who was complaining, as many do, that he was unable to draw unemployment benefit under the new rules. He said that he was quite willing to work—[Interruption.] Is the hon. Member suggesting that because a man has finished work as a bank manager at the age of 60 he cannot be usefully employed in society? I am not convinced by the abuse from the other side that the over-50s and over-60s should not be given an opportunity and should be excluded from these figures.
I turn now to the question of travelling to work, which concerns many dormitory areas. The Ministry has stated that an increasing willingness to travel greater distances to work is essential to the industrial economy. While I partly accept this, it would be encouraging if in some way the Government made a positive contribution to assist in this matter. Those of us in the South-West who suffer the Bristol bus service will be aware of the difficulty of getting even a regular service. The cost of travelling 18 miles to work deters many of these people from taking jobs in more prosperous local areas.
Another matter that concerns many people is the estimates that the Ministry of Technology makes of the future job requirements in coming years. We have been told that there will be 300 jobs for men. If I ask any of my industrialists whether they will be offering more employment in the next four years, the answer is invariably "No". I would like to know how these figures are compiled. They have a substantial influence not only on the planning of the Ministry of Technology in its unemployment deliberations, but upon many other things.
Finally a word as to why I believe seaside resorts are in this trouble. Not being a development or intermediate area, Weston has to compete with areas further down the coast which have such status. Let us not belittle their benefits, but let us remember that it makes our lot more difficult. Cheap foreign travel is becoming increasingly popular, but above all else—and let us have no delusions about it—the shortness of credit and the effects of S.E.T. are the two most important factors. The other side of the House can repeat that S.E.T. has nothing to do with it, but I am not the first person on this side to raise the matter, and I shall not be the last. It is a desperately important matter about which I receive many letters. Unless something is done about this disastrous tax, the seaside resort industry as we know it will come to an end.
Unemployment would certainly have its effect on our economic and political position, but it is the social implications that demand our urgent attention. This is perhaps why the wording of the Motion is rather depressing.
The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) has said that we must expect this and that we are not judging the policy of the Opposition, but simply attempting to condemn the Government. This is rather churlish. There is neither comfort nor compassion. In other words, it is just political knockabout. We have had different interpretations of the statistics and it has been pointed out that in 1963 the figure was 815,000 and that this must in some way be some sort of compensation for the fact that higher and lower figures have been put forward.
I have argued that unemployment is a social and industrial flaw, despite the fact that the Governor of the Bank of England has made some very unusual references to the rôle of unemployment in the modern economy. Certainly, his references in November, 1968, when he said that a certain amount of unemployment was essential in our economy, were equally irrelevant to the serious social problems thrown up, and, I presume, considered in this debate. One of the things which precedes the whole question of unemployment of individual groups of people is what happens to the individual.
One of the most serious implications is the rationalisation of industry. This is what causes the throw-out of large numbers of people—the mergers of organisations. We have had sufficient evidence, from the large number of mergers in the past few years, to enable us to be able to assess well before the unemployment problem emerges what ought to be done. It seems that here is a piece of background information which has not been considered in the debate, but which ought to be considered at least by the Government in their research departments and certainly by industry. At the point before rationalisation takes place, before the merger, we ought to know the serious consequence that unemployment entails.
I am aware that there are some Government surveys being undertaken in the general sphere of the labour market. There are three in particular about whose progress it would be helpful to learn. There is one on the multi-purpose household, dealing with the implications of unemployment on households, one on the characteristics of the unemployed, and one on the imbalance between the local areas.
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology will be courteous enough, even if he is not able to answer specific points, to reply to those of us who are making our speeches so quickly. There have been occasions when my right hon. Friend has not done this, and the debate then becomes a peurile exercise.
More information is required. We want to know much more about the rapid turnover of jobs. Many references have been made to this, and hon. Members on both sides of the House are not entirely satisfied with the arguments that have been put forward. The statistics can be challenged, and, therefore, an independent study needs to be undertaken. An earlier study by the then Ministry of Labour found that about 180,000 people had difficulty in finding jobs on personal grounds which, in addition to disablement or sheer laziness, included things like being an ex-convict or coloured, and these characteristics do not necessarily make a man wholly unemployable. If that figure is deducted from the overall figure certain questions are raised as to the value of issuing the statistics in the present form.
Nobody knows what would be the longterm effects of a 2½ or even a 3 per cent. jobless rate sustained for seven years. Again, I make the plea that there should be an inquiry into this question. An increased mobility of labour might be a short-term de-bottlenecking phenomenon.
My second major point is that there is not only a social flaw in unemployment, but also a statistical flaw. Some exaggerated claims and allegations are made about the monthly unemployment figures, and it is necessary to probe their accuracy. I shall not be able to do justice to this in the short time I have, but I shall perhaps be able to lead the House to one or two points of inquiry.
As with the monthly trade figures, economists and politicians watch the unemployment figures as other people watch football results or a pretty girl. It is unwise to set too much store on the way in which groups of figures for one or two months are presented. They can be influenced by a chance factor even when seasonally adjusted figures, which makes normal variations between different times of the year.
Apart from this, in recent years there has appeared a new statistical quirk in seasonably adjusted figures, which makes it necessary that they should be read with great care. During the past three years the seasonally adjusted figures have been consistently higher in summer than in winter. In 1967, 1968 and 1969 the seasonally adjusted national unemployment figures rose throughout spring to reach August and September levels reported to be the highest since 1940. After the late summer, the figures fell more or less continuously in 1967 and 1968 right through to the next February.
This confounded a large number of prophets who talked of 1 million unemployed during the following winter. It may be that the same will happen this winter, and that the seasonally adjusted unemployment figures will fall until the middle of February and then rise in the spring. Almost certainly, the seasonally adjusted figures for the summer months are registering more than the true amount, and those in the winter months rather less.
Presumably, the seasonal variations for various reasons have become less sharp, so that the seasonal adjustment factors which were once correct are now over-adjusting the monthly figures. While the unemployment figures, naturally, receive the publicity and the knock-about, this important discrepancy is overlooked.
My third point—the regional and social policy—has been mentioned by hon. Members who represent constituencies where regional policies are in operation. I am not quite so critical of the Government's regional policies as some hon. Members are. The Government can feel some pride in their support of regional employment and social policies. Hence, although the latest unemployment figure has hit 628,000, there are no proportionately higher figures for the vulnerable parts of the country, which has been a factor in the past. It is rather extraordinary that I should have to mention this point after we have been debating this subject for 2¼ hours, but the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) did not touch on this in his opening speech and I hope that the Opposition spokesman will reply to this point.
Before the 1964 election, the Labour Party promised that it would try to abolish the harsh rule that when unemployment was high the poorest regions suffered most. Since then the Government have tried, by giving special treatment to these regions, to diminish the inequalities. I believe that there is still room for improvement.
Reference has been made to the fact that the situation in Scotland has improved. But looking back on their vast investment programme in the regions, the Government, if they are being realistic, might well feel disappointment. This is not because the investment policy has been a failure; it is much more fundamental than that. An inducement to an industrialist to invest, say, in Wales rather than in London will work only if he wants to invest somewhere. The same applies to the industrial development certificates. They can channel an investor to a particular area only if he wants to invest. The Government's general strategy has not given companies sufficient confidence.
My last point is on the restructuring of industry, which I believe is central to the Government's view on unemployment. Has the shift succeeded? Has it begun to take up the slack? How can we get labour to move from one industry to another? Much can be done through natural wastage, the process of retirement, death and voluntary quitting, on which most of the run-down of labour in the docks, the railways and agriculture in the early 1960s was based. In the last two of those industries the rate of decline was over 4 per cent. a year.
British Railways, even with some fairly tough unions to contend with, suffered relatively little trouble with redundancy, despite their rapid contraction. For this, it helps to have a high rate of labour turnover. British Railways, where 40 per cent. of the porters and other grades may change in a year, have had less unrest over redundancy than the ports, where the rundown has been much slower. But the tradition of "once a docker, always a docker" is being forced to change. We must, therefore, convince not only management, but employees, that it is worth changing, and that there is social backing for it.
Finally, I believe on two counts that the strategy and the tactics need to be reassessed. First, a stimulus is needed, and quickly, and, therefore, I agree entirely with my hon. Friends who want to have a stimulus in the economy. I urge the Government to examine the whole question of the relaxation of purchase tax and hire-purchase restrictions. It would be absurd, even monstrous, for no action to be taken to do this until April, because April happens to coincide with a "phoney" bookkeeping date—that of the Budget. No business would operate In this way, and it may be that the Minis- ter's advisers are perhaps not fully acquainted with this. An increase in domestic consumption is needed now. If it is done now, I do not believe that it will throw out the whole of the great economic strategy which we have been supporting over the last few years.
My second point on the specific theme of unemployment and economic tactics is that I urge the Government to institute a major inquiry on the aims and objectives of employment. It is far more important to examine the positive elements of this than to look at the negative factor of unemployment. A study of the whole area of employment, of the aims and objectives and the industrial structure, is needed. We must recognise—and I do not believe that it will come from the Conservative Party—that we must have an integrated approach to the whole question of employment which takes into account the social forces, the political needs and the economic strategy of the country.
I always listen with interest to the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Moonman), but I am getting a little tired of hearing from the benches opposite the sort of remarks which he made at the end of his speech. The record of the Labour Party on employment, not just in this Parliament, is a very bad one, and it is about time they realised it.
Hon. Members opposite are great at talking about things. I remember asking the Prime Minister in 1966 what his estimate was of the figure of unemployment that would be acceptable to the country. I asked whether it was 400,000, 500,000, 600,000, or 700,000, and he said that he thought 400,000 would be an acceptable figure. He then went on to be very rude in trying to find whether 700,000 was the sort of figure I wanted. Nobody wants it, but the present Government have shown that over the past three years they are prepared to accept a higher level of unemployment than any party in the country have ever dared to suggest to the electorate.
I do not want to spend any more time on that point, but want to devote my remarks to the employment premium in the regions. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), who has not made a speech in the debate, has muttered several times about the 5,000 construction workers unemployed in Liverpool. That is perfectly true, but I cannot see the sense in giving, say, a brewery a premium on all the people it employs when it has probably been employing the same number of people for the last 50 years and will not because of the premium increase the number employed. Certainly, a premium to Tate and Lyle, in Liverpool, would not mean that they would increase the number of their employees. But if the money spent on premium was used to improve the infrastructure in the region this would be of real value and would bite much more surely into the hard core of the problem than is the case at present.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw), to whose speeches I always listen with interest, spoke about modernising some of the old schools in Liverpool. It is surely better to use money for that purpose rather than see these premiums paid to somebody who does not increase the number of people on his payroll. I cannot understand it if premiums were paid for all additional people engaged by a firm, which might be some encouragement for the firm to expand. But I cannot see how the nation is helping to overcome problems in the development areas by paying to established organisations in those areas a premium on their present employment levels. This will not provide any incentive or encouragement to other firms to go to such an area. It is not improving the infrastructure, and this more than anything else is what is needed in these areas.
The improvement of the infrastructure of an area should include getting rid of some of the eyesores present. Because of the facts of history, these development areas contain an enormous number of old coal mining dumps, which could be got rid of. One of the greatest drawbacks in getting firms to go into such areas is that the surroundings and atmosphere are not as good as in other parts of the country. Therefore, a firm, given free choice, would sooner go to a different area.
If the Government could look at that matter—indeed, I hope that my right hon. Friend will also consider it—we could get rid of the employment premium and use the money to improve the amenities, the infrastructure and the look of many of the development areas. In that way we should be doing a great deal more to tackle this problem than the present Government have done during the whole period of office.
From the very nature of this debate, I must try to truncate my speech. I want to put right one erroneous impression which has been created, that apparently we in Scotland have solved the problem of unemployment. In Scotland, there are at present 92,000 unemployed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".] It ill becomes hon. Gentlemen opposite to say "Hear, hear", because when they were in office in 1963 there were 163,000 unemployed in my country.
It has been said by hon. Gentlemen opposite that the situation is a scandal. It was certainly a scandal that the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) came to the Dispatch Box to talk on unemployment but did not put forward a single constructive suggestion as to how the Opposition would tackle the problem. The screaming headlines we read yesterday about Selsdon Park seem to have been negatived today by arguments put forward by the Opposition in this Motion of censure on the Government. One hon. Gentleman opposite spoke about the comfort of unemployment.
When hon. Members opposite talk about unemployment it shows that they do not know what it means to the people who find themselves unemployed. We have been told of the problems in one constituency of finding jobs for retired bank managers. It is an insult to the intelligence of hon. Members that such a matter should be raised in this debate.
The problem in my constituency is that honourable, decent, respectable miners are finding themselves, at the age of 50 and over, on the scrapheap probably for the rest of their lives. To this extent I am very critical of the Government's operations. Of course, I appreciate their problems. I fought the 1966 election on the basis not of less but off more Government intervention. I wanted Westminster to intervene because I realised that the problem of unemployment in Scotland could not be solved by laissez faire policies and by private enterprise.
I suspect that the policy of the party opposite will be to try to tell the people at the next election that private enterprise will solve employment problems in the country. Last night, I attended a mass meeting in my constituency at which we talked about unemployment and pensions. I have news for hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Selsdon Park conference, with the so-called policies that emerged, will not deceive the people of Scotland as an answer to solving the problems of unemployment and pensions.
We are happy in Scotland to have lost some jobs in mining where the conditions were deplorable. I have repeatedly questioned my right hon. Friend about these matters. I believe that a great error has been committed in Scotland. We are running down the mining industry too fast. We will regret it when the nation finds that it requires coal and has no miners to dig it.
We are also pleased to lose domestic servants in Scotland. The number of domestic servants has decreased by 8,800 since 1964. Our lads and lasses prefer to work in offices or in the electronic engineering industry rather than in domestic service. It is a good thing for some people to do their own domestic work, and that our young people should go into much more productive jobs.
I will keep faith with Mr. Speaker's desire that speeches should be brief. I should like to have spoken a great deal longer, but at least my contribution has been to tell the Government that we are dissatisfied on the question of unemployment at present, and to indict the Opposition for their humbug and hypocrisy in not bringing forward any policies to deal with unemployment.
Mr. Speaker, is it not to be regretted, in view of the Chair's known attitude to minorities in the House, that a debate on such a fundamental matter as this has gone without having heard the voice of my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) or myself to speak for Scotland and Wales.
In our Motion we deplore the longest period of high unemployment since the war and we condemn the Government because of assurances which they previously gave on this subject.
In the debate two facts have stood out starkly and they are matters of grave concern to both sides of the House. The first is that in 29 of the last 30 months the figure for registered unemployed has stood at more than 500,000. Secondly, the January figures which have been recently released show a very sharp rise and this is disquieting. We are still living through the longest continuous period of unemployment for many years and that is the deplorable factor in the present situation.
Hon. Members have pointed to temporary high figures in February, 1963, when there were exceptionally bad weather conditions. That was the one month when, in Scotland, the figure stood at 136,000 which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) and other hon. Members. It was in one month. In response to that and, in particular, to the apparent challenge of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), I point out that the postwar record for high figures is held by the Labour Government of 1947 where, again, in the month of February, in bad weather and a fuel crisis, the figures were approaching 2 million—1,874,000.
Let me say straight away that these short periods of high unemployment for special reasons have occurred under both Conservative and Labour Governments. But that is not the issue before us today. It is the protracted period of grim stagnation and continuously high unemployment with which we are concerned.
I will give way in a moment.
The Prime Minister said in his statement on 20th July, 1966—and this was one of the most important statements for the economy—
If the figure of unemployment were, after all the reabsorption, after all the redeployment, and after the measures for regional distribution, to rise to a figure between 1½ and 2 per cent., I do not believe that the House as a whole would consider that unacceptable."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1966; Vol. 732, c. 646–7.]
If it had stayed below 2 per cent. then I am sure that the House would have considered it to be reasonably acceptable. But since 1966 the unemployment rate has averaged 2·4 per cent.—nearly 2½ per cent.—and that means that about 100,000 more people have been out of work than if the Prime Minister's top figure of 2 per cent. had been the average.
Last year, the total of registered unemployed was for five months 2·5 per cent. and for two months 2·6 per cent. and now it has risen to 2·7 per cent. If we consider the wholly unemployed and not the temporarily out of work, and exclude school leavers and take the figures seasonally adjusted, we still find that in every month of 1969 the figure was running at over 2 per cent.
Those words of the Prime Minister were thoroughly and inexcusably misleading, as subsequent events have shown. The figures tell plainly the story of the last three years. Most of us know, also, that the figures represent painful chapters in the lives of many families, where inability to get work brings frustration and hardship and, over a long period, can lead to a bitter sense of being expendable and to flagging hopes and even to despair.
When dealing with men's livelihoods it is highly irresponsible to hold out expectations which are simply guesses which the Government cannot fulfil.
I see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has arrived. There has been no Treasury Minister on the Bench up to now and this has been criticised by his own side of the House. The Chancellor has come in at the right moment, because I am coming to devaluation.
The Government could well say that devaluation altered the Prime Minister's statement in July, 1966. But in his broadcast on devaluation on 19th November,
1967, the Prime Minister was still saying the same sort of thing. He said:
Many industries and firms which are now working below capacity will have a chance to get into full production. This means more work, more jobs in the development areas, because we intend to be ruthless in diverting new enterprise to those areas.
This was the same notorious broadcast in which the Prime Minister said that devaluation "does not mean that the £ in your pocket has been devalued".
Again, this statement was thoroughly misleading, because what has happened since has been a net loss of jobs in all the development areas.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in March, 1959, when his Government were in power, the level of unemployment in Liverpool was precisely 29,000—or 4 per cent.? The level of unemployment now is 29,000—or 4 per cent. Obviously, we have not entirely solved the problem. Could the hon. Gentleman now tell the House what his side intends to do to solve the unemployment problem, because up to now we have not had one concrete proposal from the Opposition and it seems to me that we are not likely to get one.
The hon. Gentleman is referring to a time before some projects were brought to his area. I think that, even though he is being selective with his figures, the figures seem to come out at much the same.
Now I turn to 1970. If the hon. Gentleman will read the Motion he will see that we are considering what has been happening in the past three years against what the Government said would happen.
I declare my interest in that I was the President of the National Association of Manufacturers on Merseyside in 1959, the year to which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) was referring. Would my hon. Friend reply that between 1959 and 1963 the Tory Party took Ford into Halewood, on Merseyside. Are the Labour Government proposing something equivalent in the next three years?
I thank my hon. Friend for confirming the answer I gave.
We come to 1970, for which there were forecasts in the ill-fated National Plan. In the section on "Labour and Manpower" the forecast was very different from the problem which now faces us. It was that we should have to go round finding people to fill the many jobs. A gap, a shortfall, a manpower gap of great size was foreseen. That was issued five months before the last General Election. It certainly succeeded in diverting attention away from the real problems which faced us then and which are still facing us now.
Some of my constituents were particularly interested and took very seriously this problem which was posed of finding these extra persons to fill the jobs. Looking at the National Plan one finds the proposals put forward on page 38:
It may be concluded that, in addition to the possible reduction of unemployment by some 50,000, some 100,000–200,000 extra people might be drawn into the United Kingdom labour force if a major effort were made to raise activity rates in the less prosperous regions.
It went on:
… in all regions there are some people, particularly among older people and married women, who may not be registered as unemployed but would welcome the opportunity of a job. Employers will have to be ready to take the steps needed to make use of this additional source of labour.
The suggestion was that employers would have to be hunting around for people not even on the register to fill the jobs. Was this a genuine forecast which went hopelessly wrong or was it a deliberate red herring before the election?
The National Plan was publicly buried without ceremony in November, 1966, by the present Foreign Secretary; and the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown) now seems to be getting his own back by doing his best to wreck the Foreign Secretary's diplomacy in the Middle East. As regards those forecasts, precisely the opposite has been happening. Instead of more jobs in 1970, there has been a large net reduction in the number of jobs available particularly in the development areas.
I am glad that the Secretary of State for Scotland has arrived. During the debate on 10th December we discussed the net loss of 67,000 jobs in Scotland in three years between December, 1965, and December, 1968. The right hon. Gentleman, who wound up the debate on that occasion, failed completely to answer or explain his incredible miscalculations in his own White Paper on the Scottish economy. In his winding-up speech the right hon. Gentleman refused to give way to anyone on this side of the House, and that is always a sign that he is in a corner and on weak ground.
To assess the enormity of the right hon. Gentleman's misleading statements, and the wide difference between word and action, one must recall that in 1964 his articles and speeches said that Labour aimed at creating 40,000 new jobs a year in Scotland. But that was the number of jobs being created in Scotland at that time. It is recorded in the same White Paper that from 1960 to 1964 the average number of new jobs per year was more than 39,000.
A little over a year later, when the right hon. Gentleman was in office, he produced a plan involving the creation of only 21,000 jobs a year for six years, almost half what he had been suggesting. Can cynicism be carried any further than that? To advocate in opposition the rate which at that time was being achieved, and a year later, in office, to produce a plan for only half as much, requires the shameless doubletalk and expediency which we have come to expect from the Front Bench opposite. It was the Prime Minister who was reported as having said that in politics a week is a long time. For the Secretary of State for Scotland, a year is clearly an eternity.
The Government have been pleading that the ratio has improved in Scotland, that the ratio of unemployed in Scotland compared with England is better than it was, but both figures are worse. It is not much comfort to someone who has a cold to be told that the other fellow's cold is three times as bad, and later, when he gets pneumonia, to be told that the other fellow's pneumonia is only twice as bad. That is what the Government are trying to say.
The figures recently released for Scotland are especially disturbing. They show a rise of more than 11,000, from 3·7 to 4·4 per cent. The most disturbing factor is the small proportion who are temporarily out of work, only 3 per cent. of the total. This means that the large majority do not have jobs to return to after the bad weather or other temporary stoppages.
We also know that in Scotland more than 2,000 more jobs are likely to be lost because of two projects which are disappearing. Rolls-Royce is being run down, and the Royal Ordnance factory at Alexandria is closing. This is a Government responsibility, because it comes from the indefinite suspension of the manufacturer of the Mark 24 torpedo, which was to have been the main armament of the Royal Navy, and it is having a serious effect on that part of Scotland.
We cannot consider unemployment in Scotland without relating it to emigration. Last Thursday, a newspaper in Scotland published what was ostensibly an extract from a report to the Secretary of State by a study group. From Questions which the right hon. Gentleman answered yesterday, it is clear that no publication was authorised, but, as quotations are given in that newspaper as from the report, we must assume that they are correct. It is extremely disquieting that they confirm that it is the young and vigorous who are leaving Scotland, and that a large proportion of those who are coming in are retired and elderly.
I cannot give way, because I have not been left much time in which to make my speech.
That newspaper report shows that net figures themselves tell only part of the gory, and it confirms what many of us suspected, I shall not say it is completely new to us. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will publish the report, instead of saying that this appearance of extracts was not authorised. The fact remains that the figures from net emigration from Scotland in 1966 and 1967 show that they were the worst two years since the war.
My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) spoke about Northern Ireland and described the high and regrettable level of unemployment there. He pointed out that this was due not only to economic reasons, but to political disturbances.
In the development areas, one of the troubles has been the failure of the methods used by the Government in regional development. They are not being effective. The Government and their sup- porters have boasted about the amount of money being spent. Certainly, a lot of money is being spent, but hon. Members on both sides of the House have recently expressed doubts about the methods being adopted by the Government.
This has been clear at Question Time, and it was clear during the debate a few days ago on public expenditure. At least three hon Member on the benches opposite today expressed doubts about the effectiveness of investment grants and other measures being used in the development areas. We understand that the Government themselves are now reviewing the system, but they are not prepared to make any announcement today.
When the Minister of State was asked by one of his hon. Friends to tell us what the Government were proposing to do, he refused to answer, saying that he had not come here to make a Budget speech. I am not here to make a speech about a Conservative Budget, but I can say that when we are in office one thing that will disappear from the regional development system is the S.E.T.
Hon. Members have also referred to the importance of mobility, training, and retraining. I can only touch on that now. My visits in Scotland to industrial training programmes, including Government training centres and industry's own programmes, confirm my view that they will have an important part to play in solving the problems, but they raise other problems. The Minister of State said today that the Government were arranging for unemployed people to be trained in engineering skills. This is very interesting, but has he obtained the consent of the trade unions to the employment of such men after they have been trained? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will answer that.
The Minister of State tried to excuse the whole of the Government's economic policy by saying that they had achieved a balance of payments surplus in 1969. That was his only argument. He spoke as though that had never been done before. Let him remember that in nine out of the 13 years when the Conservatives were in office there was a surplus in the balance of payments. It was normal in our time. It appears that now it happens only once in every five years.
and then with the stagnation which we have had to suffer in the meantime.
The fact remains that during 29 out of the last 30 months unemployment has stood at more than half a million. The Government have been guilty of the same failure here as they have been in housing, as was clearly shown by this side during the debate last week. They have deliberately given assurances and raised expectations in the country which they have been unable to honour, and we therefore roundly condemn them.
I hope that the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Gordon Campbell) will not think me offensive when I say that we have been disappointed by the contributions made from the Opposition Front Bench in this debate, because sense cannot be made of a major element in the economic situation simply by being guided by the Press clipping service, however good, provided by Conservative Central Office.
What is required, and what has been lacking from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr), who began with a most unjustified attack on my right hon. Friend's courage, which I believe to be wholly beyond dispute, is a recognition that the regional considerations here are the dominant ones, as I shall seek to show. There has been practically no analysis and hardly a word about them.
May I begin, because this has quite properly been a constituency occasion for many hon. Members, by dealing with all the points that they raised before coming to the central question.
The hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) identified the economic background against which the political difficulties were being played out in Northern Ireland. I have recently met Mr. Bradford, who came to London on a mission, to discuss the matter. I have a departmental interest in that we have provided support for Harland and Wolff and Short Brothers, and reconstruction for Shorts is still our policy at the right moment. We have been engaged in direct partnership with industry in Ulster, to meet the very point the hon. Gentleman raised. I wish that he would address some of his remarks to those of his col- leagues who doubt whether the Government really ought to engage, as he and I evidently believe they should, in this type of relationship.
My hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. George Jeger), which will be in an intermediate area under the Local Employment Act, raised a key question about the relationship of this problem to changes in technology. I am glad to take the opportunity of saying what I have often said outside the House—that the white heat of technological revolution is what happens to a man when his job, because the process by which he earns his living is replaced by a new process, disappears. The white heat of technological revolution is not a Minister going round with a blow lamp adjusting the industrial structure; it is the pain and hardship which come to people when they have to change their jobs, and that is a problem not often referred to by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
While I accept the point that my right hon. Friend is making, would he not agree that this can hardly be equated with the situation in the building industry, where we have 125,000 unemployed, and areas like Liverpool, with over 5,000 building operatives unemployed?
I said I would begin by trying to deal with every point raised by hon. Members. I will come to the general argument. I know my hon. Friend's point of view very well. But the point I have just made does bear on what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) said.
The real problem of the North is that of older industries, notably coal, running down in the face of oncoming fuel industries, gas and nuclear power, and it is against this background that action taken to deal with unemployment has to be measured, and it was for this reason that the special development areas were introduced.
If the objective of the Government is made very difficult as a result of technological and industrial change, that is not, in my view, a reason for abandoning the objective, which my hon. Friend and I share in common.
I want to deal, also, with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), who made the case for public enterprise dealing with this problem. I would remind him that there is a record here—the Giro public enterprise situated in Bootle, the decision to establish Dounreay, in Scotland, and to go ahead there with the first breeder reactor.
Then there is the bus factory in Cumberland, a mixture of the National Bus Company and Leyland, the smelters, the nuclear fuel company, legislation for which is shortly to be brought before the House, which will mean greater employment in Cumberland, Merseyside and Dumfriesshire. So I hope that the hon. Member will not think we are not conscious of the rôle public enterprise may play.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool. Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw), in a thoughtful speech, raised the problem of the older male worker. This is very serious, especially in the G.E.C. factory which I went round with him. When employment falls below the level that one wants to see in any area, it is the older male worker who tends to be affected. In the light of his experience in Liverpool my hon. Friend will realise that our decision not to deschedule Merseyside was right and was a practical approach to the problem.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) asked me to make forecasts, but I cannot do so because the level of employment or unemployment is dictated by the general level of economic activity and, above all, by the extent to which goods can find a market. This is the determining factor in the level of activity, particularly in export markets.
My hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Moonman) spoke about the need for confidence, and I want to come back to this in the light of the proposed changes which the party opposite apparently intends to introduce into our regional policy. As to the need for reexamining our policies on industrial structure, the House will know that I have begun a series of discussions not only with firms, but with trade unions, on our industrial policies.
I have two final points before I come to the central question of the debate. One is that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) put an argument about R.E.P. He knows that we are committed for a seven-year period, and the reason we accepted that commitment was that nothing was more calculated to destroy the efficacy of regional incentives than changing them all the time. All these policies can properly be the subject of discussion. That is why we published the R.E.P. as a Green Paper. Whatever the merit of a change may be, I very much hope that the leaders of the parties opposite, and the hon. Gentleman himself, will not speak about regional incentives as if it is possible to change them just like that when, in fact, the effect of this policy takes some time to come through.
If the firms which the Government are trying to persuade to move to development areas were to conclude that R.E.P. would be phased out, or that investment grants could not be relied upon, we should very soon see the effect on many international companies that might otherwise come here. But I will come back to this point later on.
I have now dealt, I think, with almost every point raised by every hon. Member except that by my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), who spoke about the coal industry. He would, I know, recognise that the Government have provided very substantial financial help to cushion that industry. He will also know that, fortunately, the rate of rundown, which was at an intolerable level in recent years, is beginning to flatten out. The human implications of this are a problem to which the Government have devoted sensitive and realistic attention, and of course, substantial sums of public money.
The vacuum in this debate was that the party opposite did not consider this against the economic background. There was no reference to the fact that during the period in which these changes in the level of activity have occurred we have secured a switch in resources from a deficit running at the £750 million level to the present strong surplus, which is now the subject of considerable favourable comment here and abroad. To speak about the level of employment or unemployment without putting it against that background destroys the validity of the arguments that were used.
It is true that the use of demand management has been a factor in bringing about these changes. But, on this issue, one would not expect to find a criticism from the party opposite. I was re-reading the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) in the debate on 22nd April, 1966, during which he said:
We believe that it is the job of Government to abate the fever, the overheating, which exists in some parts of the economy, and of which the Minister cannot be unaware."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd April, 1966; Vol. 727, c. 220.]
Anyone who has read or attended economic debates over the years knows that the pressure for what was called abating the fever, or lifting the pressure, was put continually by the party opposite.
I wanted to be sure that I did not do the right hon. Gentleman an injustice. In his recent famous speech, he said:
Industry has not this century had the right climate for efficiency. Between the wars there was too little demand. Since the war there has been until recently, as Labour has now recognised, a shade too much demand.
What does that mean, other than that when he speaks outside this House he sees the rôle and relevance of demand management as part of our balance of payments recovery?
My hon. Friends do not share that view. There have been two quite different debates, the first of them with a silent Opposition saying nothing about economic policy, and the other with my hon. Friends talking, in a more real debate, about whether the level of economic activity could have been higher. [Laughter.]
I say a more real debate because my hon. Friends have the courtesy to put forward alternative policies.
If they are disappointed that the level of activity has not been as high as they would like, I suggest that they look at the years 1959–60 and 1963–64, when the level of growth ran at about 5 per cent. per year. In the first case, there was an adverse balance of payments of £400 million and, in the second, of £500 million. The reason the Government have pursued the policies that we have is that we believed that the real long-term threat to employment would be a consistent and persistent balance of payments problem.
There has been a real switch of resources. It was necessary, it has occurred, and, when one looks ahead, one can see prospects for growth. They are conditioned by the extent to which the export-led boom can continue to be effective. It is not for me today, even if I were able to do it, to anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget speech. There is a meeting of the National Economic Development Council tomorrow to consider "The Task Ahead" and to report, and there will be the normal statements by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in the Budget debate. However, no one can now doubt that there is a recovery in consumption, a continuing rise in exports and, contrary to what is said by many right hon. and hon. Members opposite, a substantial forecast rise in investment.
I did not see the Leader of the Opposition on television last night, but I believe that he made a reference to manufacturing investment. I looked up the figures, and I found that manufacturing investment at constant prices under this Government has never fallen below the highest Tory figure. In only one year has it actually fallen, and then by only £41 million compared with £296 million in 1962–63. The lowest year was that in which the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) began his term of office as Secretary of State for Regional Industry, Employment and Trade.
It depends how one uses the figures. The right hon. Gentleman will have seen that not only has there been a 10 per cent. rise in manufacturing investment over the last 12 months, to the best estimate that we can make, but a forecast of a 10 per cent. rise in the forthcoming period, which is well above any change that there might be as a proportion of G.N.P.
It is not good enough for the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to criticise the level of manufacturing investment and suggest by sleight of hand to the electorate that, by substantial savings to be got in some way out of incentives to investment, they will be able to finance a general reduction of taxation.
I want now to give some slightly more analytical passages about the reasons for the changes in the level of employment, although I recognise that demand management has played a large part in it. One is the change to which I referred earlier, the rundown of old industries and the development of new ones.
We think it to be part of the function of government that it should be ready to intervene to reduce or cushion the effect of rundown, as we have with coal and shipbuilding and, at the same time, to accelerate the development of new industries, as we have done with aircraft, computers and electronics. When I read the statements of the party opposite, I find a general inclination and drift of argument that the Government should not engage at all in the business of trying to deal with the mis-match due to the shift in emphasis from old to new. It would have been a tragedy in the coal-mining industry if it had been in private hands, or if the Government had not taken the measures that they did. In shipbuilding, a major tragedy would have occurred.
Nothing was said by the party opposite about its attitude to the existing policies, let alone new policies. My right hon. Friend dealt with the mismatch in skills and retraining. There is the regional mis-match, the problem of the development areas and the inter-mediate areas that we have assisted—
One can look at the list of measures taken by the Government to help development areas, whether it be the expansion of their boundaries, the discrimination in investment grants, R.E.P., the development of tourism, the intermediate area support—[An HON. MEMBER: "S.E.T.?"] One can look at the training provisions, the machinery grants provisions, the key worker transfer, the housing arrangements, the infrastructure support, the derelict land grants, the Government contracts, the public works, and the various policies adopted by the Government.
One is bound to ask what changes the party opposite claims that it will make in this pattern of support. If, after Selsdon Park, there is no indication of the views of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, either there is no saving to be made from this area of support or, alternatively, this is the place where they believe that savings can be made.
Finally, I want to try to contrast what is said by the Opposition on the state of our economy with what is said by some commentators. For this purpose I should like to quote from an article that appeared in an American magazine, as follows:
'The start of the 1970s is an appropriate time to answer critics at home and abroad who claim that after years of declining world power and incessant balance of payment crises Britain stands today bereft of talent, hope, courage and cash.
In fact, there is another side to this picture. It is more valid to forecast an impending revival of our fortunes, to prophesy a British renaissance in the 1970s that will win us an exciting place in the world.
I would not normally quote the Reader's Digest as a sources of my authority. But that article was written by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). I give him full marks for having written and said things abroad about the state of Britain today, in marked contrast with what is said by many Opposition leaders when they travel abroad.
But unemployment cannot be separated from the general economic recovery programme which we have carried through. Unless the Opposition clearly state how they would deal with the problem, it is impossible for us not to conclude that many of the victims who would suffer as a result of their much publicised economy drive would actually come from among those whose cause they have sought so unsuccessfully to champion today.
|Division No. 57.]||AYES||[7.0 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Emery, Peter||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Ewing, Mrs. Winifred||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Astor, John||Eyre, Reginald||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Farr, John||Longden, Gilbert|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fisher, Nigel||Lubbock, Eric|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Fortescue, Tim||Mac Arthur, Ian|
|Balniel, Lord||Foster, Sir John||Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Fry, Peter||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Batsford, Brian||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||McMaster, Stanley|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Glyn, Sir Richard||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Biffen, John||Goodhew, Victor||Maddan, Martin|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gower, Raymond||Maginnis, John E.|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Grant, Anthony||Marten, Neil|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Grant-Ferris, Sir Robert||Maude, Angus|
|Blaker, Peter||Grieve, Percy||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Body, Richard||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mawby, Ray|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Gurden, Harold||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Brewis, John||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Monro, Hector|
|Bromley- Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Bruce-Cardyne, J.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Morran-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Bryan, Paul||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Hastings, Stephen||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Hawkins, Paul||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hay, John||Murton, Oscar|
|Burden, F. A.||Heald, Rt, Hon. Sir Lionel||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Neave, Airey|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Heseltine, Michael||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Carlisle, Mark||Higgins, Terence L.||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hill, J. E. B.||Nut, John|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Onslow, Cranley|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Holland, Philip||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Clegg, Walter||Hordern, Peter||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Cooke, Robert||Hornby, Richard||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neil||Howell, David (Guildford)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Cordle, John||Hunt, John||Pardoe, John|
|Costain, A. P.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Iremonger, T. L.||Peel, John|
|Crouch, David||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Peyton, John|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Dance, James||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.)||Jopling, Michael||Pym, Francis|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Dean, Paul||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kershaw, Anthony||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Dodds Parker, Douglas||Kimball, Marcus||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Doughty, Charles||Kirk, Peter||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kitson, Timothy||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Drayson, G. B.||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Ridsdale, Julian|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Lambton, Viscount||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Eden, Sir John||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lane, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Royle, Anthony||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Weather ill, Bernard|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Temple, John M.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Scott, Nicholas||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Sharpies, Richard||Tilney, John||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Silvester, Frederick||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Winstanley, Dr. M, P.|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Vickers, Dame Joan||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Smith, John (London & W'minster)||Waddington, David||Worsley, Marcus|
|Speed, Keith||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)||Wright, Esmond|
|Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Summers, Sir Spencer||Wall, Patrick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Tapsell, Peter||Walters, Dennis||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Ward, Christopher (Swindon)||Mr. Jasper More|
|Abse, Leo||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hobden, Dennis|
|Albu, Austen||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Horner, John|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Alldritt, Walter||Delargy, Hugh||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Anderson, Donald||Dempsey, James||Howie, W.|
|Archer, Peter (R'wley Regis & Tipt'n)||Dewar, Donald||Hoy, Rt. Hn. James|
|Ashley, Jack||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Dickens, James||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Dobson, Ray||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Doig, Peter||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Driberg, Tom||Hunter, Adam|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Dunn, James A.||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur|
|Barnes, Michael||Dunnett, Jack||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)|
|Barnett, Joel||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)|
|Baxter, William||Eadie, Alex||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Beaney, Alan||Edelman, Maurice||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Bence, Cyril||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Ellis, John||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||English, Michael||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Binns, John||Ennals, David||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Blackburn, F.||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Booth, Albert||Finch, Harold||Judd, Frank|
|Boston, Terence||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Boyden, James||Fletcher, Rt. Hn. SirEric (lslington, E.)||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Bradley, Tom||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lawson, George|
|Brooks, Edwin||Foley, Maurice||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Ford, Ben||Lee, John (Reading)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Forrester, John||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold (Cheetham)|
|Buchan, Norman||Fowler, Gerry||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lipton, Marcus|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Gardner, Tony||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Garrett, W. E.||Loughlin, Charles|
|Cant, R. B.||Ginsburg, David||Luard, Evan|
|Carmichael, Neil||Colding, John||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P.||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mabon, Or. J. Dickson|
|Chapman, Donald||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McBride, Neil|
|Coe, Denis||Gregory, Arnold||McCann, John|
|Coleman, Donald||Grey, Charles (Durham)||MacColl, James|
|Concannon, J. D.||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||MacDermot, Niall|
|Conlan, Bernard||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Macdonald, A. H.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||McElhone, Frank|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McGuire, Michael|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hannan, William||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Cronin, John||Harper, Joseph||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mackie, John|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Haseldine, Norman||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hattersley, Roy||Maclennan, Robert|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hazell, Bert||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Davies, E. Hudson (Conway)||Heffer, Eric S.||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Henig, Stanley||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Hilton, W. S.||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Park, Trevor||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Mallalieu,.J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Manuel, Archie||Pavitt, Laurence||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Mapp, Charles||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Marks, Kenneth||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Swain, Thomas|
|Marquand, David||Pentland, Norman||Taverne, Dick|
|Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Perry, Ernest C. (Battersea, S.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Maxwell, Robert||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg||Thornton, Ernest|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Tomney, Frank|
|Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Probert, Arthur||Tuck, Raphael|
|Mendelson, John||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Urwin, T. W.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Randall, Harry||Varley, Eric G.|
|Millan, Bruce||Rankin, John||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Rees, Merlyn||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Richard, Ivor||Wallace, George|
|Molloy, William||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Moonman, Eric||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Weitzman, David|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Moyle, Roland||Roebuck, Roy||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Whitlock, William|
|Murray, Albert||Rose, Paul||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Neal, Harold||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Newens, Stan||Ryan, John||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Ogden, Eric||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Sheldon, Robert||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|O'Malley, Brian||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Oram, Bert||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Orbach, Maurice||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Orme, Stanley||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)||Winnick, David|
|Oswald, Thomas||Silverman, Julius||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Skeffington, Arthur||Woof, Robert|
|Padley, Walter||Slater, Joseph|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Small, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Paget, R. T.||Snow, Julian||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Palmer, Arthur||Spriggs, Leslie||Mr. William Hamling.|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshirs, W.)|