asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many jobs were lost in the Merseyside travel-to-work area in 1976, 1977 and to date in November 1978.
Information in the form requested is not available. However, I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that 7,749 redundancies in the Merseyside special development area were notified to the employment service division as due to occur in 1976 and 11,444 in 1977. To date, 13,112 redundancies have been notified as due to occur during the period January to the end of November 1978.
Does my hon. Friend agree that those figures represent a clear indication that Government policy on unemployment is not working on Merseyside? In spite of the fact that Merseyside is a special development area and lately has probably had more cash from the Government than at any other time, it is not keeping up with the pace at which we are losing jobs there, particularly in the private sector. When will the Government look at the question of unemployment and start to design policies—such as the extension of public ownership—to meet that situation?
The Government are well aware of the grave problem of unemployment on Merseyside and will do everything possible to increase the confidence of industrialists in Merseyside and boost morale in the area.
Does my hon. Friend realise that he has an opportunity to do everything possible to help? Given that we have lost so many jobs on Merseyside, will he now give an assurance that the headquarters and the laboratory of the new National Enterprise Board-sponsored micro-chip industry will be located on Merseyside and not, as presently planned by the NEB, in an area of very low unemployment?
That is a decision to be made, but certainly the Government by, for example, directing the Health and Safety Executive headquarters to Bootle have shown their concern to direct jobs to Merseyside.