asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give the percentage fall that would be needed to produce a return in the total numbers of registered unemployed persons in the United Kingdom to the levels prevailing at the end of 1972, 1974 and 1976.
At November 1978 the unemployment rate stood at 5·8 per cent. The proportion of the current work force which would need to be unemployed in order to return to the levels of unemployment prevailing in the United Kingdom at November 1972, November 1974 and December 1976 are 3·4 per cent., 2·7 per cent. and 5·7 per cent. respectively.
May I half thank the Minister for the rather strange selection in his statistical answer? How does the hon. Gentleman react to the ominous prediction by the Manpower Services Commission in its official report that to reduce unemployment to 600,000— that was the level in March 1974—by 1982 it will be necessary to create 1·7 million extra jobs? How would the Government, with their lamentable record, propose to deal with a problem as monumental as that?
The Government intend to do that by continuing rigorously to fight inflation and by pursuing their industrial strategy.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the unemployment figures will rise by more than 5,000 on Friday if the closure of Times Newspapers Ltd. goes ahead? Is he further aware that the answer given by the Minister of State, Department of Employment was not satisfactory and that there is great pressure for the Government to intervene?
That is a matter that would lead to ACAS and other bodies becoming involved in an extremely difficult situation.