asked the Minister of Labour if he will state for the most recent available date the figures of unemployed at Newmilns, Ayrshire, exchange, and the figures for the same date last year.
One hundred and eighty-one on 12th February, 1962, compared with 276 on 13th February, 1961.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the area covered by this exchange is the centre of the lace-making industry in Scotland? The industry is in recession. Some people may even think it is in decline. Historically and traditionally, the industry employs married women, so the number registered at the exchange does not always reflect the state of employment in the area. Will the hon. Gentleman draw this decline to the attention of the Board of Trade with a view to seeing what can be done to get another industry in the area?
I appreciate that the area is very heavily dependent upon one industry. I also appreciate that this industry employs many married women, who may not necessarily be reflected in the figures. Both the hon. Gentleman and I can draw a little comfort from the fact that the number of wholly unemployed has slightly declined—only slightly—and more comfort from the fact that the number temporarily stopped has also declined.
There is a big loss of employment in the area. This affects not only married women but school leavers.
I hope that I have said enough to show that I appreciate the problems of the area. We keep them under close consideration.