asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that at 12th February, 1962, 2,534 boys and 1,411 girls were out of work in the Northern Region; and, in view of the fact that this is almost double the total number of young people out of work in the Northern Region on 12th February, 1961, what action he intends to take to improve this position in the near future.
Yes, Sir. Unemployment among young people on 12th February was higher in all regions than a year ago. The difficulties are likely to be temporary and the Youth Employment Service is doing all it can to help the young people to find employment. Parts of the Northern Region are listed as development districts, and the Government will continue to encourage the expansion of employment opportunities in those areas.
Is the hon. Member aware that if effective action is not taken by the Government hundreds of these youngsters may have to leave their homes and go to other parts of the country in order to find jobs? Apart from the human aspect, this could be disastrous for the industrial future of the Northern Region. Therefore, what real action do the Government propose to take in the near future? We are tired of promises.
Twenty-eight per cent. of the insured employees in the Northern Region work in areas listed as development districts—so that some action has already been taken. It would be quite wrong to say that nothing is happening in that region. About 26,000 jobs are expected to accrue over the next four years.
Is the Minister aware that these figures, far from being temporary, are likely to increase in the next few years? Is he further aware that the manpower available in the mining industry is being reduced by 22,000 in the next three years owing to a curtailment of recruitment of young boys leaving school? How will the Minister deal with this problem if steps are not taken to bring in other industries?
To arouse fears ahead of the event is not necessarily doing very much good to the region in which the hon. Member is so deeply interested. It is necessary to regard the matter more factually. I understand that the Coal Board is not unhopeful of finding jobs for people who are affected by the closure of collieries. There is a growing diversity of industry in the area. Last year, 42 per cent. of the boys obtained apprenticeships in the region, and that compares favourably with the 38 per cent. for young people in the country as a whole.