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?
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.
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?
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.