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Northern Region

Volume 961: debated on Tuesday 23 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the level of unemployment in the Northern region.

No. The level of unemployment in Northern region remains far too high, but we are determined to do all we can to reduce it substantially. The Government's special employment and training measures have so far benefited over 91,000 people in the region.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. How does he account for the increase in unemployment in the Northern region over the past month? How much of it was due to the road haulage dispute, if any?

It is too early for me to be able to state the reasons for the redundancies which have been declared and which have led to that increase in unemployment.

On a day when, for instance, there is still hardly any movement out of the Manchester and Liverpool docks, and hardly anything going into the Winsford and Kirkby districts, will the Minister recognise that in the North-West region and in the Northern region, and in all the regions affected by regional unemployment, the present stoppages are causing more unemployment than anything the Government have yet done?

When will my hon. Friend recognise that the policies being followed by the Government in relation to regional and general unemployment are simply not working? When will the Government adopt policies as outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) in order to deal with the problems of the North-West region and the Northern region, where private enterprise is closing down factories and creating redundancies at an alarming rate?

The Government are aware of the problems faced by the regions in this country and have pursued their regional policy because of that.

If the Minister is not able to give us the information today, will he make an early statement to the House about the number of people in the Northern region who are unemployed as a result of the present industrial disputes, and indicate the number of people who have lost their jobs permanently as a result of those disputes? Will he also accept the fact that today there is no significant improvement in the position, in spite of the code of the Transport and General Workers' Union, and that secondary picketing continues particularly in respect of petroleum sites on Teesside?

If I were to write to all small employers in the Northern region, asking them for the reasons for the redundancies which have been declared, there would be an outcry from the Opposition for a further inquiry. I do not think that it is possible to give details month by month of the reasons for the redundancies, and it will not be possible in this case.