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Volume 929: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he now has plans to pay an official visit to Merseyside to investigate the causes of unemployment.

My right hon. Friend at present has no plans to do so. However, I visited Ellesmere Port on 18th March 1977 and Knowsley on 28th March 1977.

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

Between February and March 1977 the number of persons registered as unemployed in the Merseyside special development area decreased by 2,238 to a total of 77,937. There was a corresponding fall in the unemployment rate from 10·6 per cent. in February to 10·3 per cent. in March. This decrease is encouraging, but the area's high unemployment rate continues to give cause for serious concern. As I explained in the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend to 2nd March, the Government are fully aware of the special problems of Merseyside and have taken action to help the area.