To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on his Department's plans to encourage growth in employment in rural areas.
Our Department is playing its part with other interested Departments to help rural economies expand and diversify. Our key aim is to encourage enterprise by providing the necessary advice and support.
I am sure the Minister will agree, and I am certain that the rest of the House will agree, that, to judge from the paucity of his reply, there is a distressing contrast between the Government's emphasis on urban deprivation and that relating to rural deprivation in areas such as my own. Nevertheless, given that the Minister has said that he is working with his colleagues, will he seek the extension of the assisted areas map, particularly to the United Downs area in Cornwall, given the job losses currently happening in the tin industry there?
I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. The figures indicate that unemployment in rural development areas is below the national average. I will certainly look into his last point.
Will my hon. Friend look at the situation in the East Sussex and Kent rural development area, where unemployment is higher than the national average, and where there is a strong feeling that window dressing is more important than new projects? Will he liaise with other Government Departments on this subject, which is causing considerable concern to my constituents?