Economy

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th April 1999.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Labour, Bolsover 12:00 am, 15th April 1999

When he next expects to meet the Governor of the Bank of England to discuss the state of the economy. [79459]

Photo of Alan Milburn Alan Milburn Chief Secretary, HM Treasury

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer meets the Governor of the Bank of England regularly to discuss a range of issues.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Labour, Bolsover

Will my right hon. Friend tell the Governor of the Bank of England and anybody else he bumps into that, in Bolsover and Barnsley, people are not talking about the withholding tax yet? What they are talking about is jobs. Unemployment is a problem that has to be resolved by this Government before the next election. In about 120 or 150 constituencies mainly represented by Labour Members of Parliament, in the coalfields and old industrial areas, unemployment is still too high.

Will the Minister give a guarantee that, in the next few months, we will ensure that regional aid of all descriptions is not reduced? Will he also ensure that the 82 recommendations in the coalfields task force report, which would considerably help those areas, will be implemented and that the money will be found as soon as possible?

Photo of Alan Milburn Alan Milburn Chief Secretary, HM Treasury

As my hon. Friend is well aware, the Government are considering the recommendations of the report of the coalfields task force. He will be aware that the new regional development agencies have now come into being. They will act as a powerhouse for economic regeneration, especially in regions such as his and mine. He will also be aware that, since the general election, unemployment has continued to fall; employment has continued to go up; an extra 400,000 people are now in work; youth and long-term unemployment have been halved; and the new deal is proving especially effective precisely in communities such as his own that most need the creation of new jobs.