At 10 March the number of unemployed claimants in the United Kingdom was 3,172,390. That was a slight fall from the February figure. The seasonally adjusted figures show an increase in unemployment over that month, but job vacancies have slightly improved.
Is the Secretary of State aware that in some of our inner city areas male unemployment is as high as 50 per cent.? What plans do the Government have to reduce those horrendous figures? Will the right hon. Gentleman have urgent talks with Mr. Alex Moon, the chairman of Kraft Foods, which this week has announced that a further 930 jobs will be axed in Kirkby? We cannot afford those job losses on Merseyside.
I advise the hon. Gentleman, who is a Liverpool Member, perhaps to go back to the Ford strikers at Halewood and tell them bluntly that until they match the standards of production of workers in Germany, with exactly the same equipment, there is singularly little prospect for increased employment in the British motor industry on Merseyside.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that one way to reduce unemployment significantly would be for the British public, before making purchases in the future, to think British? If they spent 4 per cent. more per week of their household budgets on British goods, which they could well do, because the quality is better than it was, that would reduce unemployment by more than one third of a million.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. However, one has to be able to obtain those British goods. If factories close down due to strikes, those goods are not obtainable.