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Volume 927: debated on Wednesday 2 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any plans to pay an official visit to Merseyside to discuss unemployment problems.

My right hon. Friend at present has no plans to do so, but I plan to visit Ellesmere Port on 18th March.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the unemployment figures issued recently for Merseyside.

In February 1977 there were 80,175 persons registered as unemployed in the Merseyside special development area. This figure shows only a very slight decrease since January when there were 80,572 people unemployed in the area. Merseyside's unemployment rate of 10–6 per cent. is still far too high; this rate reflects both the structural problems from which Merseyside continues to suffer and also the national economic recession. The Government are aware of the problems of Merseyside and have taken action to help the area, for example, through our regional industrial policy; by providing more support for the Manpower Services Commission to increase training; and through the special measures that have now helped over 20,000 people on Merseyside.