Is the Minister aware that that is one of the highest unemployment rates in the entire United Kingdom and that it includes almost 600 school leavers, for whom there are only three jobs available? Can we expect any improvement as a result of the measures announced yesterday?
The principal reason for the very bad figures is the closure of the steelworks in September 1980 with the loss of no fewer than 3,600 jobs. The problems of the steel industry were not created by the Government. I can hold out hope for the hon. Gentleman. I understand that 1,100 former BSC workers have found new jobs or training since the closure of the works. Consett lies in the North-East special development area and the maximum financial assistance is available from the Department of Industry. Some small firms have set up in the area and the business opportunities programme should persuade many more to go to the area.