West Yorkshire

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th February 1983.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman , Huddersfield East 12:00 am, 8th February 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the unemployment figures in the engineering industry in west Yorkshire for the years 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982, respectively.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)

The figures for registered unemployed at May each year were 3,102 in 1979; 3,236 in 1980; 7,274 in 1981 and 8,036 in 1982.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman , Huddersfield East

Is the Minister aware how great a condemnation of his Government's policies those figures represent? Is he further aware that beneath the figures lie the tragedy of the number of apprentices who have become redundant and unemployed during their course of training? Is he further aware that the number of apprentices has halved during his Government's period of office? To whom do the Government offer opportunities? Are they only offered to those in the City and get-rich-quick merchants? Are any opportunities offered to the people in the heartland of this country?

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)

I am well aware of the serious effect of unemployment on regions such as that represented by the hon. Gentleman. No one can gainsay that. I am certainly not aware that the figures are a condemnation of the Government. They are a condemnation of the many years during which Britain became increasingly uncompetitive. If the hon. Gentleman believes that the situation can be turned around in a mere three years, he is very much mistaken. What is more, the majority of people in this country do not agree with him. They support a continuance of this Government's policy. In the engineering industry, the amount that we have spent on the training for skills programme has increased significantly from £7·25 million in 1979–80 to £25 million in 1982–83.

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the unemployment figure in Halifax since his Government came to office has risen from hundreds to over seven thousand, and that among the unemployed are hundreds of skilled engineering workers, who are being rendered redundant almost weekly? Will the hon. Gentleman visit some of the engineering firms that still exist and tell them that things are getting better? Is he aware that managements will not agree with that view?

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)

The hon. Lady is right in saying that there are many people who suffer considerably from the unemployment that now exists. That is true not only in this country but in the other countries of the industrialised world. Those who wish to draw conclusions merely from the figures in this country misjudge the situation altogether. The hon. Lady must take some blame as a member of a Government who sowed the seed that left this country least able to meet the recession.