Employment Statistics

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7 March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Ednyfed Davies Mr Ednyfed Davies , Caerphilly 12:00, 7 March 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the current level of unemployment in (a) Wales and (b) Mid-Glamorgan; and what are the corresponding figures for the same dates in 1982 and 1981, respectively.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

On 10 February 1983 unemployed claimants totalled 178,077 in Wales, compared with 165,170 and 137,312 in February 1982 and 1981 respectively. On 10 February 1983 the number of unemployed claimants in mid-Glamorgan was 33,440. Earlier comparable figures are not available, but in February 1982 and 1981 the number of unemployed registrants totalled 33,686 and 27,809 respectively.

Photo of Mr Ednyfed Davies Mr Ednyfed Davies , Caerphilly

Does the Secretary of State agree that the figures show an unemployment rate for mid-Glamorgan of 17 per cent.? Will he take note that In the Bargoed travel-to-work area in my constituency the current figure is 20 per cent. unemployed—one in five? Nearly every house has someone unemployed residing within it. Will the Minister consider this, not from a political stance, but on grounds of pure humanity, as a problem which he could and should do something to solve?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I confirm the figures. I have not checked the detailed statistics. The Government share the hon. Member's concern about the figures. I have described to the House on numerous occasions—as recently as the last Welsh day debate—the measures that are being taken. I have noted the measures proposed by the Social Democrats. They do not appear to be radical. A high spot among the proposals is that the Government should eliminate the jobs tax imposed by a previous Labour Cabinet of which the leaders of the hon. Gentleman's party were prominent members.

Photo of Mr Tom Hooson Mr Tom Hooson , Brecon and Radnor

Does my right hon. Friend agree with Chancellor Helmut Kohl who said yesterday that the market economy, and not the state, has the best remedies for unemployment?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

I entirely agree. The most encouraging feature of the present very difficult circumstances in Wales is that, despite the severity of the recession, many new companies have been setting up in, and moving into, Wales, which suggests that as we move out of the recession Wales will be extremely well placed to take advantage of the upturn and the successes of the market economy.

Photo of Mr Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda

Do not the figures that the Secretary of State has given the House show clearly that if we leave matters to market forces unemployment in Wales is unlikely to be reduced? Will he confirm that, despite the figures that he gave, the seasonal trend of unemployment is still upwards and that even if we manage to continue the monthly reduction of unemployment by 2,500, which apparently occurred last month, it will still take about four years to get back to the employment levels that existed when the right hon. Gentleman took office?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

Of course we are all concerned with high unemployment in the recession. The problem can be found in many countries. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is as pleased as I am that there was a reduction in unemployment last month. I believe that the fact that unemployment has risen so much less severely in Wales than in other parts of the United Kingdom during the recession and that we have been successful in changing our industrial base during that time offers considerable hope for the future. Certainly there are no easy solutions, and that must be apparent to the representative of a party that has found unemployment higher when leaving office on every occasion that it has been in government since the war.