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Volume 828: debated on Tuesday 21 December 1971

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I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

While of course recognising the Home Secretary's natural reluctance to go to any part of the country where the place names might remind him of Irish priests, may I ask him to urge his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to consider the fact that the December unemployment figures now show a 30 per cent. rise in 12 months for male unemployment in Cornwall? Will he recognise that this is a direct result of the Government's butchering of the previous Government's regional policies and that this is the worst Government for Cornwall in 50 years?

Naturally, I do not accept any of the premises of that supplementary question. My right hon. Friend and the rest of the Government are aware of the problems of Cornwall, which will benefit a good deal, in particular, from the infrastructure programme announced by my right hon. Friend.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, if the Prime Minister were to go to Cornwall, he could see for himself the developments, particularly in the road-building programme, which are taking place under this Government?

That is quite true. It is somewhat surprising that some of those who spend a good deal of time there do not equally recognise the facts.

Since the whole of Cornwall, with one minor exception, is now a development area—and North Devon as well; since the Prime Minister's euphemism of unemployment being explained as "thinning out" in industry does not apply to the South West; and since the figures in my constituency have already reached 12·6 per cent., does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the time has come for a senior Minister to come down to the South West to meet trade unionists, industrialists and others who are trying to create jobs, to try to give them some encouragement and to hear what they have to say?

That is a suggestion worth considering. The problem of Cornwall has always been particularly a seasonal one: I accept that the rates of unemployment there are high, but I would emphasise that development area status means that they will get more benefit from the Government's measures.