In view of the unemployment figures which, when seasonally adjusted, show an actual increase, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not feel that the new Minister should be given powers and status sufficient to deal with what is now very clearly a long-term problem?
The unemployment figures show an absolute decline though a seasonal increase. However, the hon. Gentleman did not mention that the number of unfilled vacancies, which is a most important figure, shows a better improvement than was seasonally to be expected. On the general question, responsibility within the Cabinet should rest on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
Will the right hon. Gentleman draw to the attention of the Minister for Industrial Development the fact that in greater Manchester this month, despite a small fall in the national unemployment figures, there has been a further rise of over 1,000 in the number of wholly unemployed, bringing the total to a new disastrous post-war record? Will he ask the Minister for Industrial Development to help by giving us the 10 per cent. plant and machinery grant and by extending the period for house improvement grants so that we have the full 24-month period?
Will my right hon. Friend once more try to explain to hon. Gentlemen opposite that one of the main reasons for the high unemployment total is the unreasonable level of wage demands made by the unions? [Hon. Members: "Shocking."]
Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to his hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) that the areas with the lowest incomes are precisely the areas with the highest levels of unemployment? Although there may be some jobs in areas like Norfolk, in urban areas such as Liverpool and Glasgow the unemploy- ment rates continue to increase. Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that drastic and urgent action by the Government is needed?
If the Home Secretary accepts that high wages and high wage claims cause unemployment, can he say why the areas with the highest wages have the lowest unemployment and why other areas, like Scotland, the North-East and Wales, where wages tend to be lower, have the highest unemployment?